The Republican-majority Senate has passed their budget, paving the way for a conference committee between the House and the Senate. The budget passed in the wee hours of the morning on a 52-46 vote. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) were the only Republicans to vote against the budget. Senator Cruz has already announced a White House run and reports indicate that Senator Paul will announce a campaign as early as next month.
The vote occurred at 3:28 AM, following the Vote-A-Rama. Senate rules allow a flurry of amendments to be added onto the budget, but none of binding. This has led to many of the amendments being used to gain political points or push the other side into the corner. Several noteworthy amendments were offered this year. Senator Stabenow (D-MI) proposed an amendment that would defund electronic equipment that would be used by the legislative branch in order to contact other national governments. Senator Paul also proposed an amendment that would ramp up defense spending, but balance it with cuts elsewhere. That amendment only garnered four votes.
The budget is also interesting in its long-term strategy. The budget mandates the repeal of Obamacare. This does not mean The Affordable Care Act would be repealed with passage of the budget, though. Instead, it would allow a repeal of Obamacare to be treated as a budget item. This removes the ability to filibuster and requires only a simple majority.
The Senate budget plan reaches balance in a decade and does so without any tax hikes. The savings come from deep cuts to various programs.