A last-ditch effort by U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine to send a controversial Republican tax reform bill back to committee died on a party-line vote Thursday.

King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, made a motion Thursday evening to recommit the tax bill to the Senate Finance Committee so lawmakers could craft a deficit-neutral measure that “does not bust the deficit.” The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation estimated Thursday that the bill would increase economic growth, but also add $1 trillion to the budget deficit over the decade.

In a floor speech introducing his amendment, King said the tax reform bill will affect Americans, businesses and the economy for a generation. But King blasted Republicans, saying that for legislation of this import the Senate should “thoroughly understand the provisions of the bill, its implications, its impacts, its possible unintended consequences.”

“Instead, Mr. President, we have the worst possible process. In other words, we have the highest stakes and the lowest process,” King said. “It’s the worst process I think I have ever seen in a public body. The Bangor City Council would not amend the leash law using this process. We are talking about one of the most important bills any of us will ever vote on that has had zero hearings before the United States Senate.”

The Senate debated King’s amendment and the underlying bill for more than an hour before holding a lengthy vote. Ultimately, the motion to send the bill back to committee failed on a 48-52 vote.

The Senate previously rejected several other attempts to recommit the bill Thursday.

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