Top GOP senators say they have the votes to pass tax bill

Republicans have clinched the 50 votes need to pass their tax plan, after three key holdouts came on board. 

The move puts the legislation on a path to clear the upper chamber as soon as Friday and puts Senate Republicans on the brink of a significant legislative and political victory. 
 
Senate GOP leadership has been under a mountain of pressure to deliver on the tax bill after failing to repeal and replace ObamaCare in July and again in September. 
 
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Top Republican senators appeared confident on Friday that they had the votes, after GOP Sens. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesOvernight Finance: House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama | GOP leaders to consider Dec. 30 spending bill | Justices skeptical of ban on sports betting | Mulvaney won't fire official who sued him Week ahead: House scrambles on spending bill | What's next on tax reform | Panel to vote on Fed chair nominee This is a tax bill, not tax reform MORE (R-Mont.) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOvernight Cybersecurity: Panel pushes agencies on dropping Kaspersky software | NC county won't pay ransom to hackers | Lawmakers sound alarm over ISIS 'cyber caliphate' GOP chairman warns of ISIS's ‘cyber caliphate’ Overnight Finance: House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama | GOP leaders to consider Dec. 30 spending bill | Justices skeptical of ban on sports betting | Mulvaney won't fire official who sued him MORE (R-Wis.) said they would support the plan. 

"I believe so," said Sen. John CornynJohn CornynMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Air Force makes criminal reporting changes after Texas massacre We need a better pathway for allowing civilians to move guns across state lines MORE (R-Texas), asked if they had the votes needed to pass the legislation.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.), surrounded by a mob of reporters, smiled as he declared that he would be able to make good on the key GOP agenda item. 

"We have the votes," he told reporters, after a closed-door caucus meeting. 
 
With a 52-seat majority McConnell can only lose two GOP senators and still let Vice President Pence break a tie. 
 
Leadership and staffers have been locked for days in a frenzy of around-the-clock negotiations as they tried to tamp down last minute concerns from deficit hawks that threatened to derail the bill. 
 
 
 
But in a turnaround, Flake gave Republicans their 50th "yes" vote on Friday, saying he had been able to get rid of a "budget gimmick" and had gotten a commitment from leadership win permanent protections for young immigrants who had been allowed to work in the United States under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. 
 
"I am pleased to announce I will vote in support the tax reform bill," he said.
 
 
But GOP leadership appears ready to pass the legislation without Corker, who has been pushing to get a guarantee that the bill won't increase the deficit. 
 
Corker wanted a "trigger" for automatic tax hikes in the bill if government revenue projections aren't met, but he was told by the parliamentarian that the provision doesn't comply with Senate rules.

Instead, leadership offered to add automatic tax increases in the bill, but that idea faced a swift backlash from other members of the caucus, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
 
 
Republicans announced after their closed-door caucus meeting on Friday that they would not include the automatic tax increases in the bill. 
 
 
An analysis released by the Joint Committee on Taxation on Thursday found that the bill would cost $1 trillion over a decade, though senators could get an updated score Friday
 
Johnson and Daines had also been pushing for a better deduction rate for small-and-mid size business known as "pass throughs." 
 
Johnson said on Friday that he had been able to secure a better deal on the deduction percent for "pass-through" businesses, raising it from 17.4 percent to 23 percent. 
 
"A seat at the table. Not just input. Not just consulting, but a seat at the table," he added, asked how he was able to get to "yes" on the legislation.
 
This story was updated at 1:40 p.m.