Collins to vote for GOP tax plan
GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) said on Friday that she will support the Senate tax plan, giving the legislation an additional shot of momentum.
“I will cast my vote in support of the Senate tax reform bill. As revised, this bill will provide much-needed tax relief and simplification for lower- and middle-income families, while spurring the creation of good jobs and greater economic growth,” Collins said in a statement.
That means the Senate GOP tax plan, which leadership wants to pass as early as Friday, now has the support of 51 Republican senators. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who has concerns about the deficit, is the only remaining holdout.
Several amendments that Collins offered were incorporated into the bill, including the restoration of a $10,000 deduction for property taxes and a lower threshold for deducting medical expenses.
Collins touted the ability for her to get changes into the bill as crucial to her decision to ultimately be able to support it.
“Over the past several weeks, I have worked to ensure that the Senate bill includes a number of important changes,” she said.
Her decision is a reversal from her position on repealing and replacing ObamaCare.
Collins opposed each of the three repeal-and-replace proposals in July, as well as a separate bill from GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (La.) in September.
Collins had voiced concerns about a provision in the tax plan that would repeal ObamaCare’s individual mandate. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said earlier this month that repealing the individual mandate would result in an additional 13 million people becoming uninsured by 2027.
But Collins reiterated on Friday that she has gotten a promise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to include two health-care bills meant to address the impact of the mandate repeal in must-pass legislation this year.
“I am very pleased the Majority Leader committed to support passage of two important pieces of legislation before the end of the year to mitigate these increases,” she said.
One bill, from Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), would provide two years of ObamaCare’s cost-sharing reduction payments. The second bill, spearheaded by Collins and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), would provide funding for “reinsurance” programs aimed at bringing down premiums.
But CBO Director Keith Hall said in a letter sent to Murray on Wednesday that her legislation with Alexander would do little to make up for premium increases or coverage losses if the mandate is repealed.
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