Senate

McConnell hits Sanders for removing help for home state college from tax bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) knocked Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) after Democrats got a provision removed from the GOP tax plan that would have helped a private college in Kentucky.
 
McConnell said that by stripping out an exemption to the endowment tax for universities with fewer than 500 tuition-paying students, Sanders and Democrats are “going after low-income students.”  
 
“They didn’t have to raise the challenge when required. They chose to. And in the process they knowingly hurt schools that provide tuition-free education to students who can’t otherwise afford to go to college,” he said. 
 
{mosads}He added that “this is especially hypocritical coming from the man who claims to support free college for all. I remember the presidential campaign last year.” 
 
Sanders responded noting that McConnell “more than anyone” would have known that the provision would be flagged by the parliamentarian. 
 
“I am glad that Senator McConnell has suddenly developed an interest in making college affordable for working class families. I would hope, therefore, that he would co-sponsor my legislation making all public colleges and universities tuition-free,” he said in a statement. 
 
He added that the GOP tax bill does “serious harm” to “working-class college students.” 
 
“I do find it ironic that, while taxing higher education, Senator McConnell’s legislation provided massive tax breaks to billionaires and large corporations,” he said. 
 
The Senate parliamentarian ruled that the “tuition paying” language didn’t meet the budget rules under reconciliation, a process Republicans used to avoid a Democratic filibuster. That allowed Democrats to raise a procedural challenge on the Senate floor removing the provision from the bill. 
 
McConnell noted that he helped craft the language to shield Berea College, a private college in Kentucky that doesn’t charge students tuition, from an endowment excise tax targeting schools with large endowments.
 
But Democrats announced hours before the vote that they would challenge that, as well as a provision on 529 savings plans championed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and the bill’s title after the parliamentarian determined they didn’t comply with the rules. 
 
“In the mad dash to provide tax breaks for their billionaire campaign contributors, our Republican colleagues forgot to comply with the rules of the Senate. We applaud the parliamentarian for determining that three provisions in this disastrous bill are in violation of the Byrd rule,” Sanders and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in a statement. 
Tags Bernie Sanders Mitch McConnell Ron Wyden Ted Cruz
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