Senate tax drama intensifies as bill
faces key panel vote
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[November 28, 2017]
By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald
Trump's drive to overhaul the U.S. tax code headed toward a new drama on
Tuesday in the Senate, where a pair of Republican lawmakers demanded
changes to the party's tax bill in exchange for their help in moving the
Trump was due to lobby Republicans at their weekly policy luncheon in
the U.S. Capitol, with the Senate poised for a possible vote on tax
legislation as early as Thursday.
The president has called on Republicans to deliver a tax bill to his
desk before Christmas. But a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Tuesday,
which Republican leaders hoped would send legislation to a full Senate
vote, has become a potential hurdle with Republicans Ron Johnson and Bob
Corker saying they may vote against the measure.
Their opposition could be the first major obstacle for the Republican
tax overhaul in the Senate, where political infighting killed the
party's effort to overturn the Obamacare healthcare law earlier this
Both lawmakers contend that they are ready to back the tax cut package
for businesses and individuals if their separate concerns are satisfied.
Corker, a prominent fiscal hawk, wants a measure that would prevent the
tax bill from ballooning the federal deficit. Johnson wants a better
deal for so-called pass-through enterprises that include small
"This is all very constructive," Corker told reporters on Monday even as
he acknowledged that he could vote against the legislation. "We are all
working in a very constructive way. It's nonstop."
Two Republican "no" votes at the committee hearing would come as a blow
to the fast-tracked drive by Republicans to seize their first major
legislative victory since Trump took office in January. Republicans, who
control both chambers of Congress and the White House, need a win to
save face with voters in next year's congressional midterm election
after their failed push on Obamacare.
The budget committee's approval is vital to the Republican strategy of
passing tax legislation by a simple majority in the 100-seat Senate,
which they control by a margin of 52-48. But they control the 23-member
budget committee by only one vote, making a single Republican "no" vote
The Senate bill would slash the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35
percent after a one-year delay. It would impose a one-time, cut-rate tax
on corporations' foreign profits, while exempting future foreign profits
from U.S. taxation.
[to top of second column]
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence depart the U.S.
Capitol after meeting with House Republicans ahead of their vote on
the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" in Washington, U.S. on November 16,
2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein/File Photo
But it would also add more than $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit
over the first decade, according to congressional analysis.
Republicans have said that economic growth spurred by tax cuts would
generate enough new tax revenue to eliminate any new deficit.
But the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation is not expected to
release a full macroeconomic analysis of the tax bill head of a
As a result, Corker and other Republican deficit hawks, including
Senator James Lankford, have been holding talks with Senate tax
writers and the administration about adding a provision that would
raise tax rates if revenues fall short of expectations.
Other lawmakers have expressed concern that the Senate bill could
raise taxes on some individuals by eliminating a popular federal
deduction for state and local tax payments and increase health
insurance costs for people with medical conditions.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), another nonpartisan research
unit of Congress, said the number of Americans with health insurance
would fall by 13 million by 2027 under the Republican tax bill,
which would repeal an Obamacare federal fine meant to encourage
people to buy health insurance.
The CBO said this would make people with incomes below $30,000 net
losers under the bill, and most of those earning more would be net
winners, especially those with incomes between $100,000 and
(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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