Key GOP holdouts advance tax bill after meeting with Trump

Key GOP holdouts advance tax bill after meeting with Trump
© Greg Nash

Two key holdouts on the Senate Budget Committee voted to advance the tax-reform bill after President Trump pressed them during a lunch meeting Tuesday.

Sens. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonHillicon Valley: Barr asks Apple to unlock Pensacola shooter's phone | Tech industry rallies behind Google in Supreme Court fight | Congress struggles to set rules for cyber warfare with Iran | Blog site Boing Boing hacked Congress struggles on rules for cyber warfare with Iran Senators set for briefing on cyber threats from Iran MORE (R-Wis.) and Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerRNC says ex-Trump ambassador nominee's efforts 'to link future contributions to an official action' were 'inappropriate' Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (R-Tenn.), who threatened to oppose the tax bill in the Budget Committee, on Tuesday voted to advance it.

“I think based on the progress we’ll go ahead and vote to move it forward,” Johnson said shortly before the Budget Committee was scheduled to consider the legislation.

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Republicans control 12 seats on the committee while Democrats control 11. The bill advanced in a 12-11 vote along party lines.

Trump called out Johnson by name twice during his meeting Tuesday afternoon with the entire Senate GOP conference and urged him to stop blocking the legislation.

“He told him to stop blocking it and to work out his concerns with the rest of the conference. He told him he would have a chance to offer amendments and he should stop being an impediment,” said a Senate GOP source familiar with the meeting. 

“He went at him twice by name,” the source added.

Johnson offered a different version of the conversation.

“Obviously he wants me, he encourages me to get to yes. That’s certainly what I want to do,” he said.

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“He might have said 'Ron' a couple times. I always say ‘Mr. President,’ ” Johnson quipped. 

Johnson said Trump did not tell him directly to stop blocking it.

If Johnson or Corker had voted "no," it would have been an embarrassing setback to the GOP leadership.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public George Conway group drops ad seeking to remind GOP senators of their 'sworn oaths' ahead of impeachment trial GOP senator 'open' to impeachment witnesses 'within the scope' of articles MORE (R-Ky.) could have still brought the tax-reform legislation to the floor, but it would have been embarrassing not to get a majority vote for it in committee.

All Democrats on the panel voted "no."