Abolish the 'death tax,' say Senate Republicans
© Greg Nash

Senate Republicans are rallying behind legislation from Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneEx-Trump adviser: Shutdown 'not worst idea in the world' 74 protesters charged at Capitol in protest of Kavanaugh Senate clears 4B ‘minibus’ spending measure MORE that would repeal the federal estate tax.

The South Dakota Republican said the tax, which opponents refer to as the "death tax," is punishing Americans "for a lifetime of hard work."

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“Death should not be a taxable event. For too long the federal government has forced grieving families to pay a tax on their loved one’s life savings that has been built from income already taxed when originally earned," Thune said in a statement. "This tax punishes farmers and entrepreneurs for a lifetime of hard work."

Twenty-seven Senate Republicans have endorsed Thune's bill, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHill.TV poll: Majority of Republicans say Trump best represents the values of the GOP The Hill's 12:30 Report Republican strategist: Trump is 'driven by ego' MORE (Ky.); Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzMellman: Two worlds — Online and off GOP pollster: Trump dominates political rivals vying for media attention Cruz challenger O'Rourke launching .27M TV ad buy focusing on 'positive' message MORE (Texas), who is running for president; and Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDems make history, and other takeaways from Tuesday's primaries Establishment-backed Vukmir wins Wisconsin GOP Senate primary Florida questions Senate chairman over claim that Russians have ‘penetrated’ election systems MORE (Fla.), who is expected to launch a White House bid soon.

McConnell called the tax "unfair" and "anti-family." 

"It is the federal government’s final insult to tax your family when you have already paid taxes on your property throughout your life," the Kentucky Republican said. "The thought of having to visit the IRS and the undertaker on the same day is an absolute outrage."

Senators voted last week to include an amendment that backed the repeal of the estate tax in the budget. Every Republican, aside from Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsBudowsky: Collins, Murkowski and Kavanaugh Senate Judiciary announces Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing NRA will spend M to support Kavanaugh for Supreme Court: report MORE (Maine), supported the amendment, which was also from Thune. 

While the vote wasn't binding, it did get senators on the record. 

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersDems make history, and other takeaways from Tuesday's primaries Ellison wins Minnesota AG primary amid late domestic violence allegations Ironworker and star of viral video wins Dem primary for Speaker Ryan's seat MORE (I-Vt.) said ahead of last week's vote that repealing the estate tax "is not about family farms or small business. This amendment benefits exclusively the wealthiest 0.3 percent of the families in this country." 

Under current law, a deceased person’s estate or assets have to be worth more than $5.43 million before they are subject to the tax.