GOP racing to tax votes

GOP racing to tax votes
© Greg Nash

Republicans racing for the finish line said they could hold final votes in the House and Senate on their tax-cut bill as early as Tuesday, finishing off the first major legislative victory for President TrumpDonald John TrumpArizona GOP Senate candidate defends bus tour with far-right activist Alyssa Milano protests Kavanaugh in 'Handmaid's Tale' costume Bomb in deadly Yemen school bus attack was manufactured by US firm: report MORE.

Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynSen. Warner to introduce amendment limiting Trump’s ability to revoke security clearances Sentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies Rand Paul to ask Trump to lift sanctions on Russian leaders MORE (R-Texas) told reporters the chamber could vote on the bill Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning as two previously undecided GOP senators, Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway Lee2020 hopefuls skeptical of criminal justice deal with Trump Sentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies Senate gets to work in August — but many don’t show up MORE of Utah and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsWhite House weighs clawing back State, foreign aid funding The Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) Overnight Defense: Pompeo creates 'action group' for Iran policy | Trump escalates intel feud | Report pegs military parade cost at M MORE of Maine, said they would back it.

While both were expected to support the bill, their public declarations added to the sense of inevitability surrounding the bill.

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The House is expected to vote Tuesday.

 

The pre-Christmas votes will follow new reports that say the tax plan’s costs could exceed $2 trillion over 10 years before factoring in economic growth if the bill’s temporary tax cuts are made permanent. That’s significantly higher than the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that the bill as written would cost $1.46 trillion.

Most of the tax cuts for individuals expire after 2025, and some other provisions in the bill are also temporary, while the reduction in the corporate tax rate is permanent. Some of the tax changes are temporary in order to comply with budget rules that prevent the bill from adding to the deficit after 10 years if it is to avoid a filibuster from Democrats.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan deficit hawk group, estimated that making the tax cuts permanent would increase the bill’s cost to $2 trillion to $2.2 trillion using traditional scoring and would result in the bill costing $1.5 trillion to $1.7 trillion after accounting for economic growth.

The right-leaning Tax Foundation estimated that making the plan permanent would cost $2.7 trillion before accounting for economic growth and $1.4 trillion after doing so.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyTreasury releases proposed rules on major part of Trump tax law Republicans happy to let Treasury pursue 0 billion tax cut Trump weighs big tax cut for rich: report MORE (R-Texas) pointed out that the Tax Foundation also indicated that the tax bill would boost economic growth, and was optimistic that the legislation would be successful in strengthening the economy and the U.S. business climate.

“We just finished eight years with Washington spending your money. How about we try eight years of you spending your money. And then a future Congress will decide which one works best for the country,” he told reporters Monday. “I’m convinced they’ll decide that stronger growth and a far more competitive tax code means continuing those permanently.”

When the House passed its version of the tax bill last month in a 227-205 tally, only 13 Republicans voted against it, mostly due to concerns about its curbs to the state and local tax (SALT) deduction.

The House-passed bill would have eliminated the deductions for state and local income and sales taxes and capped the property tax deduction at $10,000. The final bill is more generous, capping the total amount of state and local tax deductions households can take at $10,000 in a year but allowing them to deduct their property taxes as well as either their income or sales taxes.

Even with that change, some GOP lawmakers in high-tax states who voted against the House bill have said they plan to vote against the bill.

“The overall impact of changes to the SALT deduction will accelerate the trend of hardworking individuals and businesses already leaving our state — further eroding New York’s tax base,” Rep. John FasoJohn James FasoElection Countdown: Latest on the 2018 Senate money race | Red-state Dems feeling the heat over Kavanaugh | Dem doubts about Warren | Ocasio-Cortez to visit Capitol Hill | Why Puerto Ricans in Florida could swing Senate race Progressives’ wins highlight divide in Democratic Party Delgado wins Dem primary in N.Y. race to unseat Faso MORE (R-N.Y.) said in a statement Monday.

“Due 2 pressure of several members like me, bill was improved, but not enough for a significant # of my constituents,” said Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-Calif.) on Twitter.

One lawmaker who will be in the spotlight Tuesday is Rep. Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney Procter FrelinghuysenDems eyeing smaller magic number for House majority Puerto Rico mayor: Territory's profile has grown since hurricanes House panel advances homeland security bill with billion in border wall funding MORE (R-N.J.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Chairmen of big committees generally vote with their party on major legislation, but Frelinghuysen, who is in a competitive district, voted against the House bill last month due to SALT deduction concerns. That drew a backlash from conservatives, some of whom think he should be replaced as chairman.

The Senate could see every Republican member in attendance vote for the bill.

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump stays out of Arizona's ugly and costly GOP fight Voters will punish Congress for ignoring duty on war and peace GOP Senate candidate truncates Trump tweet in campaign mailer MORE (R-Ariz.) is the only Republican who, as of Monday evening, has not said how he would vote. Flake voted for the Senate bill earlier this month.

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Hill's 12:30 Report Senate gets to work in August — but many don’t show up Rand Paul’s Russia visit displays advancement of peace through diplomacy MORE (R-Ariz.) will miss the vote because he will be in Arizona receiving medical treatment. Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranGOP Senate candidate doubles down on Robert E. Lee despite Twitter poll GOP Senate candidate polls followers on whether Robert E. Lee was hero or villain Mississippi courthouse named for Thad Cochran MORE (R-Miss.) also missed votes last week due to health issues but is expected to be in attendance for the tax vote.

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSen. Warner to introduce amendment limiting Trump’s ability to revoke security clearances White House weighs clawing back State, foreign aid funding Rand Paul to ask Trump to lift sanctions on Russian leaders MORE (R-Tenn.) voted against the earlier Senate bill, but says he will back the conference report.

Democrats have pointed to a provision in the bill relating to pass-through businesses as the “Corker kickback,” suggesting he switched his vote because the final bill could benefit people with real estate holdings.

But key Republicans say the retiring Corker was not involved in including that provision in the final bill, which they say came from House Republicans who wanted to help capital-intensive companies.

“The claim that Senator Corker had anything to do with it, in my view, is baloney,” Brady said.

Jordain Carney contributed.