Timing on tax vote slips amid intense talks
Senate Republicans were expecting to cast a key procedural vote early Wednesday afternoon to begin debate on tax reform, but the timing has slipped some as lawmakers scramble to make last-minute adjustments.
Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the bill is being held up because of “technical issues” but said GOP leaders have enough votes to advance the tax bill.
“There’s some technical issues that may delay the vote a little bit,” he said.
GOP aides earlier on Wednesday said they expected a vote to proceed to the tax bill to take place about 2 p.m., but there are still some loose ends to wrap up.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would only tell GOP colleagues at lunch that a vote will take place sometime Wednesday afternoon.
Several Republicans with concerns over the bill shuttled in and out of McConnell’s office: Sens. Steve Daines (Mont.), John McCain (Ariz.), Bob Corker (Tenn.) and Susan Collins (Maine).
Sen. Tom Tillis (R-N.C.), who presided over the Senate floor during lunch, said he expected a vote on the tax bill in the 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. timeframe.
Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (S.D.) said leaders are in talks with the Senate parliamentarian over whether a proposal to limit tax relief in case of underwhelming economic growth meets the procedural requirements of the budget process.
The so-called “trigger” is an important concession to Republicans concerned about the deficit, such as Corker and Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.).
The details of the compromise have not yet been made public and conservative groups are pushing back hard against the idea.
Club for Growth President David McIntosh said, “The idea of a ‘tax hike trigger’ should be rejected on its merits.”
“It will have harmful impacts on American businesses and undermine any economic growth potential in this tax reform bill because businesses will not invest due to the possibility of a higher tax rate,” he said.
Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, warned that a trigger would create uncertainty in the private sector.
“The key to pro-growth tax reform is permanence and certainty,” he said. “No one invests in response to ‘maybe.’ A trigger that threatens tax hikes is a self-fulfilling threat to kill jobs.”
– This report was updated at 2:40 p.m. EST