Senators voted along strict party lines, 52-48, in favor of bringing the bill to the floor.
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said she would approve the tax package, stunning media members who had clung to the centrist politican as a last hope of voting down Trump’s plan.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the floor, “I encourage any member who thinks that we need to fix the problems of our outdated tax code to vote to proceed to the legislation.”
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More from The Hill:
Trump, a day after visiting the GOP conference, sold the bill on Wednesday during a stop in Missouri, where Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill is up for reelection.
“This week’s vote can be the beginning of the next great chapter for the American worker,” he said, adding that the tax cuts would ensure a “merry Christmas” for the country.
The GOP’s goal is to get a final bill to Trump’s desk by the end of the year, which would give him and his party a significant win at the end of a difficult year.
If the Senate can approve its legislation this week, Congress would have the month of December to work out differences between the Senate and House bills.
The vote starts the clock on 20 hours of additional debate on the tax legislation before a freewheeling “vote-a-rama.”
During that process, any senator can demand a vote on any amendment, with hundreds of potential changes typically being filed. The vote-a-rama is expected to take place on Thursday. Several senators who could make or break the tax plan remain on the fence, despite agreeing to start debate.
It appears these Republicans are likely to vote for the final bill, though thorny talks about how to safeguard GOP economic estimates that the bill will not bust the budget could be a problem.
Keep going, Senate! Give America the “big, beautiful Christmas present” it deserves!