The Republican tax bill cleared a crucial hurdle in the Senate on Tuesday, passing a committee that includes two Republicans who have demanded changes to the legislation.

Amid protesters shouting, “Kill the bill; don’t kill us,” the Senate Budget Committee voted along party lines, 12-11, to send the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to the full Senate. Republican leaders hope to pass the bill later this week.

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The “yes” votes included Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who supported moving the bill despite a threat to vote against the final product if it does not include more relief for small-business owners who pay taxes under the individual tax code. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who has expressed concerns about adding to the debt, also voted “yes” on Tuesday.

“Today’s markup moves us one step closer to a simpler, fairer and more transparent tax system,” Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) said just before the vote. “This bill will provide a needed makeover for our out-of-date tax code while advancing American energy security.”

President Donald Trump, speaking to reporters in the Roosevelt Room in the White House after meeting with Republican House and Senate leaders, praised the vote.

“I think we have tremendous support … We had a unanimous vote [among Republicans on the committee], and it goes now to the next step, and I think we’re going to get it passed,” he said. “It’s going to pass, and it’s going to be very popular. It’s going to have lot of adjustments before it ends. But the end result will be a very, very massive — the largest in the history of our country — tax cut.”

The ranking minority member of the Budget Committee, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), blasted the bill as “incredibly horrific and unfair” and complained that debate in the committee was limited to 15 minutes.

“This legislation is a disastrous and unfair piece of legislation, which gives huge tax breaks to the people who need it the least — the very, very wealthy,” he said. “It raises taxes on millions of middle-class families at a time when the middle class is struggling.”

Sanders alleged that 87 million households would pay higher taxes, while 13 million Americans would be left without health insurance.

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Both of those claims are based on an analysis by the government’s Joint Committee on Taxation, which projected that a repeal of the tax on people who go without insurance would prompt millions to drop out of insurance coverage. Many of those people would be eligible for subsidies to help them buy insurance. The forecasters count giving up those subsidies as tax increases even though it would not take any cash out of those Americans’ pockets.

Most of the rest of the projected increases on middle-class taxpayers come from sunset clauses for some tax breaks in the back end of the 10-year budget window. That is a necessary feature to be able to project a deficit increase of no more than $1.5 trillion over the next decade. That allows Republicans to avoid a filibuster in the Senate. GOP leaders argue that Congress would not allow those breaks to expire.

While the tax-cut plan marches forward, it is far from assured. Johnson remains committed to deeper cuts for small-business owners, which would require smaller cuts elsewhere or more revenue. In addition to Corker, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) has expressed concerns about the deficit. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) opposes repeal of the individual insurance mandate. And Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is always a wild card.

Trump met earlier Tuesday with Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters after that meeting that getting consensus within the Republican Conference is not easy.

“It’s a challenge,” he said. “Think of sitting there with a Rubik’s Cube and trying to get to 50.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told reporters in a separate news conference that more work needs to be done.

“We’re not there yet,” he said. “But we’re close. There are a lot of good elements in this tax bill.”

Cruz lobbied for deeper cuts for families in order not to leave anyone behind.

“In my view, we need to focus more relief on the individual side,” he said. “That’s really what I pressed the president, pressed the conference to do. I think we should be giving every American a tax cut. And I think we can get there.”

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, told LifeZette that Tuesday’s vote was a good sign for the bill’s ultimate prospects.

“It could have gotten hung up today,” he said. “It didn’t.”

Norquist said Republican leaders still have to address the concerns of budget hawks, senators favoring deeper tax cuts for small-business owners, and Collins. But he said they appear to be genuine efforts to improve the bill rather than a back-door way of killing it.

“Every one of those has outlined a path to ‘yes,'” he said. “No one has asked for anything impossible.”

Conservative activists are ramping up efforts to push wavering Republicans to get to “yes” by the time the full Senate votes.

Related: Grover Norquist: Renegade Senators Won’t Hold Up Senate Tax Bill

“Americans deserve a pay raise, and the economy needs to see real economic growth,” Jason Pye of FreedomWorks said in a statement.

Heritage Action for America indicated that it would count the tax bill as a “key vote” on its annual congressional scorecard.

“Republicans have had unified control of the federal government — the House, Senate, and White House — for only seven years since the 1930s,” Heritage Action CEO Mike Needham wrote in an op-ed on Tuesday. “To say this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity is an understatement. America cannot afford for congressional Republicans to miss this opportunity by careening down another legislative canyon.”

(photo credit, homepage image: Ron Johnson & Samantha Dravis, CC BY-SA 2.0, by Gage Skidmore; photo credit, article image: Ron JohnsonCC BY-SA 2.0, by Gage Skidmore)