Senate panel approves GOP tax plan

The Senate Finance Committee late Thursday approved the chamber’s GOP tax bill, after the House passed its measure earlier in the day.

The panel voted to send the tax plan to the full Senate on a party-line vote of 14-12.

"For the millions of hard-working Americans who need more money in their pockets and the chance of a better future, help is on the way," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSunk judicial pick spills over into Supreme Court fight Hillicon Valley: Trump's Russia moves demoralize his team | Congress drops effort to block ZTE deal | Rosenstein warns of foreign influence threat | AT&T's latest 5G plans On The Money: Trump 'ready' for tariffs on all 0B in Chinese goods | Trump digs in on Fed criticism | Lawmakers drop plans to challenge Trump ZTE deal MORE (R-Ky.) said in a statement.

“When the Senate returns after Thanksgiving, I will bring this must-pass legislation to the floor for further debate and open consideration," he said.

The bill, as modified by Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchLighthizer to testify before Senate next week as trade war ramps up Senators introduce bipartisan bill to improve IRS Senate panel advances Trump IRS nominee MORE (R-Utah) during the four-day markup, would temporarily cut taxes for individuals while permanently slashing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. It also would repeal ObamaCare’s individual insurance mandate.

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The individual tax cuts would expire after 2025 in order to comply with a rule that requires the bill to not increase the deficit after 10 years if it is to pass the full Senate on a simple majority.

Republicans praised the measure, arguing that the tax cuts and the mandate repeal would help the middle class.

“This is a good bill that delivers on our promise to provide middle-class tax relief and grow our economy,” Hatch said shortly before the vote.

Democrats attacked the bill for providing temporary tax cuts for individuals but permanent cuts for corporations while arguing that repealing the individual mandate would result in millions fewer people having health insurance. They also criticized the process of considering the legislation as rushed.

"I think this is indefensible, partisan legislation," said Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSunk judicial pick spills over into Supreme Court fight House passes measure blocking IRS from revoking churches' tax-exempt status over political activity Senators introduce bipartisan bill to improve IRS MORE (Ore.), the top Democrat on the Finance Committee.

Republicans and Democrats on the panel argued over the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) analysis on the distributional effects of the bill.

The JCT found that when including a repeal of the individual mandate, the bill would increase taxes on average for those making $20,000 to $30,000 starting in 2021 because fewer people would enroll in a health insurance plan, for which they would receive tax credit subsidies.

The committee also found that income groups under $75,000 would on average receive tax increases in 2027 because of the expiring individual tax cuts.

Democrats viewed the report as bolstering their case against the bill. But Hatch said that taxes appear to be going up for lower-income families because of a “scoring assumption” and noted that the bill doesn’t bar access to the subsidies.

“Anyone who says that we’re hiking taxes on low-income families is misstating the facts,” he said.

Democrats offered a slew of amendments, including some relating to health care and some designed to highlight what they perceive as flaws with Republicans’ tax efforts. For example, Wyden offered an amendment to make the individual tax cuts permanent and sunset the corporate tax changes.

The Democrats’ amendments were defeated by Republicans or ruled not to be germane.

The bill is expected to be considered on the Senate floor the week after Thanksgiving, where Republicans have little margin for error. If no Democrats vote for the bill, Republicans can only afford to see two GOP defections.

So far, Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOn The Money: Trump 'ready' for tariffs on all 0B in Chinese goods | Trump digs in on Fed criticism | Lawmakers drop plans to challenge Trump ZTE deal Juan Williams: Putin wins as GOP spins GOP senator: Harley-Davidson is right to move some production overseas MORE (R-Wis.) is the only GOP senator who has come out against the bill. He has expressed concerns that the bill doesn’t treat pass-through businesses such as partnerships and sole proprietorships as well as it treats corporations.

Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenators share their fascination with sharks at hearing Helsinki summit becomes new flashpoint for GOP anger Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash MORE (R-S.D.) both said there would be continued work in the pass-through area.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report — Russia furor grips Washington Overnight Health Care: Novartis pulls back on drug price hikes | House Dems launch Medicare for All caucus | Trump officials pushing ahead on Medicaid work requirements Senate panel to vote next week on banning 'gag clauses' in pharmacy contracts MORE (R-Maine), who voted against the Senate GOP's scaled-down ObamaCare repeal, has expressed concerns about including individual mandate repeal in the bill, while several GOP lawmakers have raised concerns about the bill’s impact on the debt. But so far, they have not taken a hard stance against the bill.

If the Senate is able to pass its bill, the measure would have to be reconciled with the House bill, which has some significant differences.

The House bill would likely add to the deficit after 10 years, does not include repeal of the individual mandate and does not sunset most of its changes to the individual tax code. It also keeps a deduction for property taxes up to $10,000 that the Senate bill would eliminate.

Peter Sullivan contributed