Trump's tax bill faces potential Senate
Send a link to a friend
[November 28, 2017]
By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Senate
Republican tax bill strongly backed by President Donald Trump faced
potential opposition on Monday from two Republican lawmakers who could
prevent the sweeping legislation from reaching the Senate floor.
Senators Ron Johnson and Bob Corker, both members of the Senate Budget
Committee, said they could vote against the tax package at a Tuesday
hearing that Republican leaders hoped would send the legislation to a
full Senate vote as early as Thursday. Each senator is seeking different
changes to the legislation.
Their opposition could create the first major hurdle for the Republican
tax overhaul in the Senate, where political infighting killed the
party's effort to overturn the Obamacare healthcare law earlier this
Corker, a prominent deficit hawk, said he wants his fellow Republicans
to add a backstop measure to prevent tax cuts from ballooning the
deficit. Johnson said he wants a bigger tax break for "pass-through"
businesses, which include small mom-and-pop enterprises as well as some
large, non-corporate businesses.
"If we develop a fix prior to committee, I'll probably support it, but
if we don't, I'll vote against it,Ē Johnson's office quoted him telling
reporters in his home state of Wisconsin.
Republicans have only a one-vote majority on the 23-member budget
The potential "no" votes surfaced after Congress' Joint Committee on
Taxation (JCT) estimated the Republican bill would expand the $20
trillion national debt by $1.4 trillion over a decade.
Republicans have said that economic growth spurred by tax cuts would
generate enough new tax revenue to eliminate any new deficit. But Corker
said JCT is not expected to release a full macroeconomic analysis of the
tax bill ahead of a Senate vote, making a safeguard provision necessary.
"I'm not threatening anything. I'm just saying it's very important for
me to know that we've got this resolved," Corker told reporters. Asked
if he could vote no on the tax bill at the committee hearing, he
replied: "Very possible. Yeah. Sure."
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.
"We canít afford to ignore the debt and deficit issues," Lankford told
reporters. "To me, the big issue is how are we dealing with debt and
deficit, do we have realistic numbers and is there a backstop in the
process just in case we donít."
Republicans see the tax bill as their last chance to score a significant
legislative achievement in 2017 and save face with voters in next year's
congressional midterm elections. Since Trump took office in January, he
and his fellow Republicans have passed no major legislation, despite
controlling both chambers of Congress and the White House.
[to top of second column]
President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks about tax legislation
at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 27, 2017.
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.
Financial markets have rallied since Trump's stunning 2016 election
victory, partly on hopes of tax cuts for businesses. The Senate bill
would deliver these, although its impact on individual Americans and
families would be more mixed.
BILL WOULD HURT THE POOR, CBO SAYS
Meanwhile, 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.
Such a change would shrink the supply of healthy, young people
insured and drive up healthcare insurance premiums. The CBO said
this would make people with incomes below $30,000 net losers under
Most of those earning more would be net winners, especially those
with incomes between $100,000 and $500,000, it said.
Democrats, who call the bill a give-away to the rich and
corporations, are expected to oppose it in the Senate. The House of
Representatives approved a tax bill by a 227-205 vote on Nov. 16. No
Democrats voted for it. Thirteen Republicans opposed it.
If the Senate Budget Committee approves the tax bill on Tuesday, it
will allow Republicans to use a parliamentary procedure known as
reconciliation to pass the measure on a simple majority in the
100-seat Senate, which they control by a slim 52-48 margin. Without
reconciliation, the legislation would need 60 votes, allowing
Democrats to prevent its passage.
Senate Republican leaders did not appear on Monday to have enough
votes to pass the legislation, with about a half-dozen Republicans
viewed as potential "no" votes.
But in a positive sign for Trump's agenda, Republican Senator Rand
Paul said on Monday he would support the bill. Republican Senator
Lisa Murkowski has also signaled support.
(Additional reporting by Makini Brice, Susan Heavey and Tim Ahmann;
Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Cynthia Osterman)
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.