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UPDATE 2-U.S. Republicans seek to hasten tax reform with budget action

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WASHINGTON, Oct 5 (Reuters) - The Republican-controlled U.S. Congress moved to hasten its overhaul of the U.S. tax code on Thursday by moving closer to agreement on a budget resolution, a procedural step that would help advance eventual tax legislation.

The House of Representatives voted 219-206 to adopt a fiscal 2018 spending blueprint containing a legislative tool that would let Republicans bypass Democrats and pass a tax bill by a simple majority vote in the Senate, where they hold 52 of 100 seats.

Separately, the Republican-led Senate Budget Committee was expected to approve its own budget resolution later on Thursday and send it to the full Senate for a vote, likely in two weeks.

President Donald Trump and top Republicans in Congress are determined to enact tax legislation before January. House Republicans could unveil tax legislation by the end of October.

"We are closer than ever to finishing what we have started for the American people," said House tax committee Chairman Kevin Brady, whose panel is crafting an initial tax bill.

But the Republican plan to slash taxes by up to $6 trillion for corporations, small businesses and individuals has run into difficulties since it was announced last week.

It has been assailed by Democrats as a strategy for benefiting the wealthiest Americans while hiking taxes on some middle class Americans and cutting spending on social programs including the Medicare and Medicaid healthcare programs.

Republican lawmakers are also pushing back on a proposal to help pay for tax cuts by eliminating popular tax deductions. Some Republican fiscal hawks have also warned they will not back a tax reform package that adds to the federal deficit.

The Trump tax plan would add about $2.4 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, said the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, a Washington tax think tank, at a time when the national debt already exceeds $20 trillion.

"Where is all that money coming from?" Representative John Yarmuth, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, asked on the House floor. "If you're listening to this and you're not a millionaire, probably from you."

In the Senate, Democrats sought to hamstring the Republican budget resolution with amendments that would prevent tax legislation from benefiting the wealthy, raising taxes on the middle class and adding to the deficit. Democrats also called for an end to reconciliation, the legislative procedure that would sideline them in a Senate vote.

Republicans also faced the danger of the sort of internal infighting that torpedoed their repeated attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

Eighteen House Republicans joined 188 Democrats to vote against the budget resolution, leaving the measure to pass by only one vote more than the minimum necessary.

The vote also set up a potential clash between House and Senate Republicans.

The House resolution requires tax reform to be revenue neutral, meaning that it would not lose revenues and add to the deficit. The Senate plan allows tax legislation to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over a decade before raising enough revenues to cover the cost of tax cuts. (Reporting by David Morgan; additional reporting by Amanda Becker; editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Nick Zieminski)