Two Senate Republicans balk at lowering top tax rate to 37 percent

Two Senate Republicans balk at lowering top tax rate to 37 percent
© Greg Nash

Two key Senate Republicans are pushing back on a proposal to lower the top individual tax rate from 39.6 percent to 37 percent, drawing questions about support for the idea.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCollins downplays 2020 threat: 'Confident' re-election would go well if she runs Cook Political Report moves Susan Collins Senate race to 'toss up' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy MORE (R-Maine) told The New York Times that “I don’t think lowering the top rate is a good idea.”

“I had hoped that the House position, the original House position, would prevail,” she said of language in the House-passed tax-reform bill that would set a 39.6 percent rate for individuals earning more than $500,000 and couples earning more than $1 million.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Senate-passed bill would set the top rate at 38.5 percent.

Collins said she will wait and “look at the entire conference report and what all the provisions are.”

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads What the gun safety debate says about Washington Trump moves forward with F-16 sale to Taiwan opposed by China MORE (R-Fla.) also balked at the proposal to lower the top individual rate, which negotiators may pay for by raising the corporate rate in the pending legislation from 20 percent to 21 percent. Details about the tentative agreement emerged earlier Tuesday.

Rubio noted that the Senate this month rejected a proposal sponsored by himself and Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeMcConnell, allies lean into Twitter, media 'war' Conservatives buck Trump over worries of 'socialist' drug pricing Criminal justice reform should extend to student financial aid MORE (R-Utah) to set the corporate tax rate at 20.94 percent and use the revenues to extend the child tax credit to low-income families by making it refundable against payroll taxes.

“20.94% Corp. rate to pay for tax cut for working family making $40k was anti-growth but 21% to cut tax for couples making $1million is fine?” Rubio tweeted on Tuesday evening.

Senate Republicans control 52 seats and can afford only two defections and still pass the tax bill under special budget rules, with Vice President Pence breaking a 50-50 tie.

Only one Republican, Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (Tenn.), voted against the Senate tax bill earlier this month. He said at the time that the bill could end up adding too much to the federal deficit.

On Tuesday, however, he expressed an open mind about voting for the legislation that emerges from the Senate-House conference.

“I want to try to get to yes. I’m a tax-reform guy. I’m also a deficit guy and those are bumping up against each other right now. At the end of the day, I’m going to cast my vote as if I’m the deciding vote on the overall package,” he said. “We’re still working on it.”

Corker spoke to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTrump says he'll decide on foreign aid cuts within a week Democrats push judge for quick action on Trump tax returns lawsuit Five key players in Trump's trade battles MORE on Monday evening and on Tuesday to discuss how he might come around to supporting the final version of the bill.