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 TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 RyanUnscripted Trump keeps audience guessing in Rose Garden Coulter defends Paul Ryan: This is 100 percent Trump's fault The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration 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 BradySmaller tax refunds put GOP on defensive Key author of GOP tax law joins Ernst and Young Lawmakers beat lobbyists at charity hockey game 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 CorkerSasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger RNC votes to give Trump 'undivided support' ahead of 2020 Sen. Risch has unique chance to guide Trump on foreign policy MORE (R-Tenn.), a "no" on the Senate tax-cut bill, would back the House–Senate compromise bill. Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio in Colombia to push for delivery of humanitarian aid to Venezuela On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week 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 McCainGOP senator says Republicans didn't control Senate when they held majority Pence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech Mark Kelly's campaign raises over M in days after launching Senate bid 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 CochranTop 5 races to watch in 2019 Bottom Line Races Dems narrowly lost show party needs to return to Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy 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 SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration 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 McConnellDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal Trump should beware the 'clawback' Congress Juan Williams: America needs radical solutions 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 Blunt‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration The border deal: What made it in, what got left out 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 CollinsGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Congress must step up to protect Medicare home health care 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 DurbinDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal Trump praises law enforcement response to shooting at Illinois business Five dead in shooting at manufacturing plant in Aurora, Illinois 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."