Along strict party lines, the Republican-controlled Senate on Thursday night voted to pass a sweeping budget measure -- one criticized as both "despicable" and "horrific" for providing massive giveaways to corporations and the super-rich while eviscerating funding for social programs, healthcare, education, and affordable housing.
The measure passed by 51-49 vote, with only one Republican, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, joining every Democrat and the chamber's two Independents who voted against it. Its approval now paves that way for massive tax giveaways to the wealthy and corporations envisioned by President Donald Trump and the GOP in both the House and the Senate.
"51 Republican Senators just voted to cut Medicaid by $1 trillion and Medicare by $500 billion so that millionaires and corporations can get a tax cut. It's immoral and despicable," said TJ Helmstetter, a spokesperson for Americans for Tax Fairness, in a statement immediately following the vote.
51 GOP Sens. voted to slash Medicaid by $1T, Medicare by $500B, & other working family priorities just so the 1% can get BIG tax cuts. SHAME pic.twitter.com/diqckrg9JT— For Tax Fairness (@4TaxFairness) October 20, 2017
Though the budget resolution itself is nonbinding, MoveOn.org's Ben Wikler notes how the Senate passage on Thursday represents the "starting gun for what might be the most consequential legislative fight of the Trump era: the looting of the US treasury to reward billionaire GOP donors and mega-corporations, at the expense of the rest of us." And with the Senate resolution now in place, a reconciliation process can begin with Republicans in the House, meaning the GOP can "shoot for a tax bill without a single Democratic vote."
In the wake of its passage, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) -- who earlier this week called the proposal "Robin Hood in reverse" for taking from the poor to give to the rich -- said the "Republicans' budget is not a bad bill. It's a horrific bill."
Republicans’ budget is not a bad bill. It’s a horrific bill.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) October 20, 2017
Sanders was far from alone in his outrage.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) called the vote a "dark deed" and urged people nationwide to stand up and fight back against what the budget represents:
Another dark deed done: GOP passes obscene budget to slash Medicare/Medicaid & explode the deficit – all in the name of tax cuts for the 1%.— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) October 20, 2017
Just think of the possibilities if instead of padding millionaires' bank accounts, we invested this $$ in education and infrastructure jobs.— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) October 20, 2017
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), also vocal in her warnings ahead of the vote, condemned the budget put forth by her Republican colleagues as "garbage".