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 TrumpTrump suggests some states may 'pay nothing' as part of unemployment plan Trump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore Trump, US face pivotal UN vote on Iran 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.

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“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 RyanWary GOP eyes Meadows shift from brick-thrower to dealmaker Budowsky: Why I back Kennedy, praise Markey Democratic super PAC quotes Reagan in anti-Trump ad set to air on Fox News: 'Are you better off?' 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 BradyOn The Money: Five takeaways from the July jobs report Stimulus checks debate now focuses on size, eligibility Pelosi huddles with chairmen on surprise billing but deal elusive 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 CorkerTennessee primary battle turns nasty for Republicans Cheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama MORE (R-Tenn.), a "no" on the Senate tax-cut bill, would back the House–Senate compromise bill. Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioPPP application window closes after coronavirus talks deadlock  The Hill's Campaign Report: US officials say Russia, China are looking to sow discord in election US intelligence says Russia seeking to 'denigrate' Biden 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 McCainBill Maher delivers mock eulogy for Trump Hillary Clinton roasts NYT's Maureen Dowd over column CNN's Ana Navarro to host Biden roundtable on making 'Trump a one-term president' 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 CochranEspy wins Mississippi Senate Democratic primary Bottom Line Mike Espy announces Mississippi Senate bid 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 SchumerChuck SchumerWhite House officials, Democrats spar over legality, substance of executive orders Schumer declines to say whether Trump executive orders are legal: They don't 'do the job' Schumer: Idea that 0 unemployment benefit keeps workers away from jobs 'belittles the American people' 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 McConnellTrump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter Coronavirus deal key to Republicans protecting Senate majority Coronavirus talks collapse as negotiators fail to reach deal 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 BluntSkepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal GOP expects Senate to be in session next week without coronavirus deal House Republicans introduce legislation to give states 0 million for elections 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 CollinsCoronavirus deal key to Republicans protecting Senate majority From a Republican donor to Senate GOP: Remove marriage penalty or risk alienating voters The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus 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 DurbinWhite House officials, Democrats spar over legality, substance of executive orders Sunday shows - Trump coronavirus executive orders reverberate Durbin blasts Trump's 'country-club fix' on unemployment 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."