Congress poised for a major test on tax
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[November 16, 2017]
By David Morgan and Amanda Becker
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The
Republican-controlled U.S. Congress was approaching a major test on
Thursday of its ability to overhaul the federal tax code, as lawmakers
prepared for their first full-scale vote on sweeping tax legislation.
Republicans in the House of Representatives were expected to take up
their own bill to cut tax rates on corporations, small businesses and
individuals after an 11:30 a.m. meeting with President Donald Trump, who
wants to sign a tax reform package into law before year end. House
leaders say they are optimistic about mustering the votes to approve the
"Big vote tomorrow in the House. Tax cuts are getting close!" Trump
tweeted on Wednesday night.
But the president's tax reform hopes have begun to encounter resistance
in the Senate, where a separate Republican tax measure has come under
fire from Republican lawmakers, including Senator Susan Collins, who
helped scuttle the Republican Obamacare repeal effort earlier this year.
Senate Republicans have made the politically risky decision to tie their
tax plan to a repeal of the individual mandate in former Democratic
President Barack Obama's signature Affordable Care Act, exposing the tax
initiative to the same political forces that wrecked their
Tax cuts are seen by Republicans as critical to their prospects of
retaining power in Washington in the November 2018 congressional
elections. So far, Republicans and Trump have no major legislative
victories from 2017 to show voters despite controlling the White House
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Copies of tax legislation are seen during a markup on the "Tax Cuts
and Jobs Act" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 15,
2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
"The American people have waited years for a fair, simple, and
competitive tax code. Right now, in this moment, we stand on the
doorstep of delivering," House Ways and Means Committee Chairman
Kevin Brady said during the House tax reform debate.
House and Senate Democrats have condemned both tax plans as a
giveaway to the wealthy and U.S. corporations, pointing to analyses
showing that millions of Americans could end up with a tax hike
because of the elimination of popular deductions.
"This is not a tax plan. This is a tax scam," said Representative
Maxine Waters, a California Democrat.
The Senate and House tax plans must eventually be reconciled and
merged into a final plan that can pass both chambers before it goes
to Trump to sign into law.
The main challenge facing Republicans remains the 100-seat Senate,
where they can lose no more than two seats from their 52-48 majority
if they hope to enact tax reform.
(Reporting by David Morgan and Amanda Becker; Editing by Peter
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