Rubio to vote 'no' on tax bill unless child tax credit is expanded

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioLobbying world Former Florida congressmen mull bipartisan gubernatorial run: report Winners and losers from Jim Bridenstine’s confirmation as NASA administrator MORE (R-Fla.) has threatened to vote against the tax bill, putting the legislation in danger of being delayed past Christmas.

Rubio has told Senate leaders that he will vote against the bill unless the child tax credit is made more generous to help lower-income workers who pay payroll taxes and not regular income taxes.

“Sen. Rubio has consistently communicated to the Senate tax negotiators that his vote on final passage would depend on whether the refundability of the Child Tax Credit was increased in a meaningful way,” said a spokesperson for Rubio.

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Rubio told reporters at the Capitol that the current tax credit is insufficient.

"Right now it's only $1,100. It needs to be higher than that," Rubio said.

"I understand that this is a process of give and take, especially when there's only a couple of us fighting for it," he told reporters. "Given all the other changes they've made in the tax code leading into it, I can't in good conscience support it unless we are able to increase the refundable portion of it."

If Rubio votes against the bill, Republicans can only lose one other lawmaker if they hope to pass the final bill that emerges from a House-Senate conference.

Rubio, speaking to reporters at the Capitol, did not give a number for how much the credit must be increased to win his vote, saying it "certainly has to be higher than it is now."

Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynGOP moves to cut debate time for Trump nominees Republicans want Trump’s VA nominee to withdraw Senators to Trump: Let Mueller finish Russia probe MORE (R-Texas), a member of the Senate-House conference, said negotiators are confident they’ll be able to bring Rubio back onboard.

“We’re still working with him and expect to satisfy his concerns,” Cornyn told reporters.
 
Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerPoll: Dem leads by 3 points in Tennessee Senate race GOP anxiety grows over Trump’s Iran decision Trump backs Renacci in Ohio Senate race MORE (R-Tenn.) previously voted against the Senate tax bill because it would add $1.5 trillion to the deficit, and no Democrats support it.

Corker has not ruled out voting for the final conference report, though he suggested his concerns have not changed.

“The issues I had before are still there,” he said. 

A spokesman for Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenators to Trump: Let Mueller finish Russia probe The Hill's Morning Report: Can Trump’s VA pick make it through the week? Mike Lee pens op-ed calling legislation to protect Mueller 'unconstitutional' MORE (R-Utah), who worked with Rubio on a previously proposed child tax credit expansion, told The Hill the senator is undecided on voting for the bill in its current form.

Republicans are also worried about the health of two of their 52 members — Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP moves to cut debate time for Trump nominees GOP advances proposal to change Senate rules Julian Castro predicts Arizona will 'go blue' for Senate, presidential election MORE (Ariz.) and Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranChamber of Commerce makes play in Mississippi Senate race for Hyde-Smith Shelby approved as Appropriations panel chairman Cindy Hyde-Smith sworn in as Mississippi's latest senator MORE (Miss.).

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders dodged on whether Trump would support further expanding the child tax credit. 

“We’re going to continue working with the senator, but we’ve made great strides,” she said.
 
“I think he’ll get there. He’s really been a great guy, very supportive,” Trump told reporters later in the day when asked about Rubio's vote. “I think that Sen. Rubio will be there, very shortly."
  
The Senate and House passed versions of the bill last month, and are now conferencing to iron out differences and send a final bill to President TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer Watergate prosecutor: Trump taking the fifth would be political suicide Comey: I’m ‘embarrassed and ashamed’ by Republican party Comey, Anderson Cooper clash over whether memo release violated FBI rules MORE. Lawmakers have promised a final version of the the tax bill soon, and Trump has said he hopes to sign a bill before Christmas.

Rubio and Lee proposed an amendment that would have expanded the child tax credit further, but the Senate voted the amendment down earlier this month.

Democrats and Republicans both criticized the amendment because it would have raised the corporate tax rate further.

-Jessie Hellmann, Peter Sullivan and Naomi Jagoda contributed to this report which was updated at 3:09 p.m.