GOP on precipice of major end-of-year tax victory

GOP on precipice of major end-of-year tax victory

Republicans are on the brink of a massive achievement as they edge closer to finishing the first year of a GOP Congress under President TrumpDonald John TrumpDems flip Wisconsin state Senate seat Sessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants GOP rep: 'Sheet metal and garbage' everywhere in Haiti MORE.

Votes in the House and Senate are anticipated early this week on a sweeping tax-cut package that will dramatically alter filings for corporations, businesses and families throughout the country.

It will deliver a real victory to the White House after a year in which it has seen its legislative agenda falter on Capitol Hill.

Trump on Sunday was clearly looking forward to the week.

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“As a candidate, I promised we would pass a massive TAX CUT for the everyday working American families who are the backbone and the heartbeat of our country. Now, we are just days away,” he tweeted.

It will also represent a big win for Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP leaders pitch children's health funding in plan to avert shutdown Lawmakers see shutdown’s odds rising Fix what we’ve got and make Medicare right this year MORE (R-Wis.), a political figure closely tied to tax reform who seems poised to achieve landmark legislation as speculation swirls around his future.

Republicans on Sunday were practically salivating over what is to come.

“We are on the 1-yard line and we intend to punch it in in a good, strong way on Tuesday,” Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyHouse passes tariff-relief bill GOP may increase IRS’s budget Overnight Finance: Congress barrels toward another shutdown crisis | Canada worries Trump will withdraw from NAFTA | Blue-state Republicans push tax law changes | Chamber CEO calls out Bannon, Warren MORE (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo.”

“And this means Americans on April 15, that will be the last time Americans have to file under this horrible broken tax code, so there is a lot to be happy about.”

In the Senate, any drama over the outcome appeared to be extinguished with the news that Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSenate campaign fundraising reports roll in Congress should take the lead on reworking a successful Iran deal North Korea tensions ease ahead of Winter Olympics MORE (R-Tenn.), a "no" on the Senate tax-cut bill, would back the House–Senate compromise bill. Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Cybersecurity: Bipartisan bill aims to deter election interference | Russian hackers target Senate | House Intel panel subpoenas Bannon | DHS giving 'active defense' cyber tools to private sector Senators unveil bipartisan push to deter future election interference Puerto Rico's children need recovery funds MORE (R-Fla), who for a day was a “no” vote, also said he’d back the bill after a tax credit aimed at low- and middle-income families was enhanced.

There are still uncertainties, including the possibility that Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcCain rips Trump for attacks on press NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Meghan McCain says her father regrets opposition to MLK Day MORE (R-Ariz.) could miss the vote. McCain's office on Sunday confirmed that the senator, who was diagnosed with brain cancer earlier this year, will be in Arizona for medical treatment and that he won't return to Washington until January. Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranTrump's chief agricultural negotiator will fight for American farmers Rep. Cummings hospitalized, wife suspends gubernatorial campaign Medical cannabis community must join together and resist any action taken against us MORE (Miss.) is also dealing with health issues.

Still, even if both missed the vote, Republicans are likely to have 50 of their members in line, which would allow Vice President Pence to break a tie.

With all Democrats voting against the bill, only a surprise would keep it from passing.

Whether the bill is really a political winner for the GOP is another question. Polls consistently show a majority of Americans are opposed to the tax bill. While Republicans believe those numbers will turn around, Democrats are likely to use the bill against GOP candidates in next year's midterm elections, arguing its benefits fall mostly on corporations and the rich rather than the middle class.

The tax bill isn’t the only big item Republicans need to finalize before heading back to their districts for the holidays.

Lawmakers must also pass a stopgap measure to again avert a government shutdown that would begin Saturday.

The House is expected to move first, with Republicans poised to pass what they are describing as a “cromnibus” bill. It would pair full year of defense funding — a defense omnibus — with a continuing resolution that would fund the rest of the government into January.

Pairing those measures meets the demands of House Republicans who want to fund the Pentagon through the year, but it will run into a Democratic wall in the Senate, where the minority party will not back legislation that would fund the Pentagon for the year but the rest of the government for just a matter of weeks.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats will need to explain if they shut government down over illegal immigration White House: Trump remarks didn't derail shutdown talks Schumer defends Durbin after GOP senator questions account of Trump meeting MORE (D-N.Y.) warned that House Republicans are burning up hours of limited time by moving forward with a bill that can’t get 60 votes.

“House Republicans should have known not to waste everyone's time with a partisan spending bill that could never pass the Senate,” he said, noting that 44 of his 48 members have pledged to oppose it.

Democrats argue the legislative posturing takes away from ongoing bipartisan negotiations aimed at reaching a separate agreement on ceilings for defense and nondefense spending for the next year.

After Congress passed an earlier stopgap measure to prevent a shutdown earlier in December, the idea was that lawmakers would agree to the ceilings and then approve a new stopgap to buy time to negotiate details.

Congress does face another deadline. Without a permanent spending bill by mid-January, automatic spending cuts known as sequestration will become law and cut into the defense and nondefense budgets. Lawmakers in both parties want to avoid that.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Overnight Finance: Lawmakers see shutdown odds rising | Trump calls for looser rules for bank loans | Consumer bureau moves to revise payday lending rule | Trump warns China on trade deficit MORE (R-Ky.) hasn’t outlined what he will offer in response to the House legislation. But the Senate is expected to pass a short-term continuing resolution that would fund the government into early next year.

“I don’t think there’s any way the Senate can pass that bill,” said Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP senators eager for Romney to join them Senate GOP wary of ending Russia probes, despite pressure GOP on precipice of major end-of-year tax victory MORE (R-Mo.), referring to the House’s continuing resolution.

He predicted that the Senate will send a “plain vanilla” bill back to the House.

Further complicating their bid to fund the government, lawmakers are mulling trying to tackle leftover deadlines by dropping fights over health care, disaster aid and an extension of a controversial surveillance program into the funding bill.

But the moves would likely spark divisions between House and Senate Republicans and would frustrate conservatives and privacy hawks.

Senate leadership has promised Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDemocrats search for 51st net neutrality vote Overnight Tech: States sue FCC over net neutrality repeal | Senate Dems reach 50 votes on measure to override repeal | Dems press Apple on phone slowdowns, kids' health | New Android malware found Overnight Regulation: Dems claim 50 votes in Senate to block net neutrality repeal | Consumer bureau takes first step to revising payday lending rule | Trump wants to loosen rules on bank loans | Pentagon, FDA to speed up military drug approvals MORE (R-Maine) that they would include ObamaCare’s cost-sharing reduction payments and “reinsurance” programs in a must-pass bill by the end of the year in a bid to win over her support for the tax bill.

Collins appears confident that the two provisions will ultimately get passed and told reporters that the short-term continuing resolution is the “likely vehicle.”

Cornyn also signaled that Senate leadership is prepared to jam a short-term extension of the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program, known as Section 702, into the government-funding bill.

Neither the surveillance program nor the additional health-care funding is in the House’s government funding bill.

And any changes made to the government funding bill in the Senate will force the legislation to be sent back to the House, where GOP leadership will need to win over privacy hawks and conservatives or lean on Democrats for support.

Meanwhile, Democrats are continuing to demand a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program by the end of the year and believe the funding fight gives them leverage.

Asked about punting the immigration fight to January, Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinMcCarthy: ‘No deadline on DACA’ Ex-Sheriff David Clarke: Trump only one who 'cares about black American citizens' DHS chief takes heat over Trump furor MORE (D-Ill.) reiterated that his party wants an agreement this year.

“They all feel as I do. It's a necessary to do it, and they want it done this year,” he said. “And that's our goal so we'll keep working at it."