GOP racing to tax votes

GOP racing to tax votes
© Greg Nash

Republicans racing for the finish line said they could hold final votes in the House and Senate on their tax-cut bill as early as Tuesday, finishing off the first major legislative victory for President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question MORE.

Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynDemocrats give Trump trade chief high marks GOP senators divided over approach to election security GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks MORE (R-Texas) told reporters the chamber could vote on the bill Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning as two previously undecided GOP senators, Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Defense: Officials brief Congress after Iran shoots down drone | Lawmakers fear 'grave situation' | Trump warns Iran | Senate votes to block Saudi arms sales | Bombshell confession at Navy SEAL's murder trial The 7 GOP senators who voted to block all or part of Trump's Saudi arms sale Senate votes to block Trump's Saudi arms sale MORE of Utah and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations Hillicon Valley: Senate bill would force companies to disclose value of user data | Waters to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency | GOP divided on election security bills | US tracking Russian, Iranian social media campaigns Stephen King: 'It's time for Susan Collins to go' MORE of Maine, said they would back it.

While both were expected to support the bill, their public declarations added to the sense of inevitability surrounding the bill.

ADVERTISEMENT

The House is expected to vote Tuesday.

 

The pre-Christmas votes will follow new reports that say the tax plan’s costs could exceed $2 trillion over 10 years before factoring in economic growth if the bill’s temporary tax cuts are made permanent. That’s significantly higher than the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that the bill as written would cost $1.46 trillion.

Most of the tax cuts for individuals expire after 2025, and some other provisions in the bill are also temporary, while the reduction in the corporate tax rate is permanent. Some of the tax changes are temporary in order to comply with budget rules that prevent the bill from adding to the deficit after 10 years if it is to avoid a filibuster from Democrats.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan deficit hawk group, estimated that making the tax cuts permanent would increase the bill’s cost to $2 trillion to $2.2 trillion using traditional scoring and would result in the bill costing $1.5 trillion to $1.7 trillion after accounting for economic growth.

The right-leaning Tax Foundation estimated that making the plan permanent would cost $2.7 trillion before accounting for economic growth and $1.4 trillion after doing so.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyDemocrats give Trump trade chief high marks Democrats talk up tax credits to counter Trump law House panel approves bills on tax extenders, expanding tax credits MORE (R-Texas) pointed out that the Tax Foundation also indicated that the tax bill would boost economic growth, and was optimistic that the legislation would be successful in strengthening the economy and the U.S. business climate.

“We just finished eight years with Washington spending your money. How about we try eight years of you spending your money. And then a future Congress will decide which one works best for the country,” he told reporters Monday. “I’m convinced they’ll decide that stronger growth and a far more competitive tax code means continuing those permanently.”

When the House passed its version of the tax bill last month in a 227-205 tally, only 13 Republicans voted against it, mostly due to concerns about its curbs to the state and local tax (SALT) deduction.

The House-passed bill would have eliminated the deductions for state and local income and sales taxes and capped the property tax deduction at $10,000. The final bill is more generous, capping the total amount of state and local tax deductions households can take at $10,000 in a year but allowing them to deduct their property taxes as well as either their income or sales taxes.

Even with that change, some GOP lawmakers in high-tax states who voted against the House bill have said they plan to vote against the bill.

“The overall impact of changes to the SALT deduction will accelerate the trend of hardworking individuals and businesses already leaving our state — further eroding New York’s tax base,” Rep. John FasoJohn James FasoThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority GOP House super PAC targets two freshman Dems with new ads Tax law failed to save GOP majority MORE (R-N.Y.) said in a statement Monday.

“Due 2 pressure of several members like me, bill was improved, but not enough for a significant # of my constituents,” said Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-Calif.) on Twitter.

One lawmaker who will be in the spotlight Tuesday is Rep. Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney Procter FrelinghuysenThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Top House GOP appropriations staffer moves to lobbying shop Individuals with significant disabilities need hope and action MORE (R-N.J.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Chairmen of big committees generally vote with their party on major legislation, but Frelinghuysen, who is in a competitive district, voted against the House bill last month due to SALT deduction concerns. That drew a backlash from conservatives, some of whom think he should be replaced as chairman.

The Senate could see every Republican member in attendance vote for the bill.

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeJeff Flake becoming Harvard fellow Democrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump's impeachment MORE (R-Ariz.) is the only Republican who, as of Monday evening, has not said how he would vote. Flake voted for the Senate bill earlier this month.

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainVeterans group to hand out USS John McCain T-shirts for July 4 on the National Mall Will we ever have another veteran as president? Meghan McCain clashes with Joy Behar as the 'sacrificial Republican' on 'The View' MORE (R-Ariz.) will miss the vote because he will be in Arizona receiving medical treatment. Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump turns the page back to Mueller probe Trump praises Thad Cochran: 'A real senator with incredible values' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump, Democrats deal with Mueller fallout MORE (R-Miss.) also missed votes last week due to health issues but is expected to be in attendance for the tax vote.

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerPress: How 'Nervous Nancy' trumped Trump Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump's impeachment Jeff Daniels blasts 'cowardice' of Senate Republicans against Trump MORE (R-Tenn.) voted against the earlier Senate bill, but says he will back the conference report.

Democrats have pointed to a provision in the bill relating to pass-through businesses as the “Corker kickback,” suggesting he switched his vote because the final bill could benefit people with real estate holdings.

But key Republicans say the retiring Corker was not involved in including that provision in the final bill, which they say came from House Republicans who wanted to help capital-intensive companies.

“The claim that Senator Corker had anything to do with it, in my view, is baloney,” Brady said.

Jordain Carney contributed.