Senators voted 52-48 to take up the House-passed legislation, which is being used as a vehicle for the Senate bill.
The party-line vote was an important victory for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump. But it was not a guarantee of ultimate success, as several Republican lawmakers agreed to open debate on the bill so they could pursue amendments, and have not yet committed to voting “yes” on final passage.
The Washington Post quotes Mitch McConnell (R-KY):
Passing tax reform is the single most important thing we can do right now to shift the economy into high gear and deliver much-needed relief to American families.
Passage of the “motion to proceed” started the clock on 20 hours of debate on the legislation, which will be followed by a so-called “vote-a-rama” in which lawmakers can offer endless amendments into all hours of the night Thursday. Then will come the final vote.
With Democrats unanimously opposed, McConnell can lose only two GOP senators in the closely divided Senate and still prevail on the bill.