GOP celebrates as final tax vote nears

Republicans edged closer Tuesday to securing their first major legislative victory of the Trump era after the House approved a sweeping tax-cut bill that left Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWary GOP eyes Meadows shift from brick-thrower to dealmaker Budowsky: Why I back Kennedy, praise Markey Democratic super PAC quotes Reagan in anti-Trump ad set to air on Fox News: 'Are you better off?' MORE (R-Wis.) and his allies euphoric amid an often-frustrating year of unified GOP rule.

The House will have to vote again on the bill Wednesday because the Senate’s parliamentarian ruled provisions in the bill did not comply with the budget rules of reconciliation, which Republicans are using to avoid a Democratic filibuster in the Senate.

But the procedural issues will do little to dampen the Republican mood, which was elation after a House vote in which only 12 GOP lawmakers voted against the bill.

ADVERTISEMENT

A grinning Ryan announced the final 227-203 vote himself, hammering the gavel down in the victory and then leading his rank-and-file members in applause.

“Today, we are giving the people of this country their money back. This is their money, after all,” Ryan said in a floor speech before the final vote.

At a press conference later, he argued that Republicans had kept a promise by passing the bill, and predicted it would grow in popularity when taxpayers see their paychecks grow in February.

The bill, which marks the largest tax overhaul in 30 years, would permanently slash the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, a reduction Ryan, President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoe Arpaio loses bid for his old position as sheriff Trump brushes off view that Russia denigrating Biden: 'Nobody's been tougher on Russia than I have' Trump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet MORE and other Republicans say will lead to investment, new jobs and economic growth.

Cuts to the code on the individual side are smaller and temporary because Republicans had to keep the total cost of their legislation at $1.5 trillion under the rules preventing a Democratic filibuster.

Ryan predicted those temporary provisions would be extended.

Republicans have struggled to beat back perceptions that their proposal primarily benefits corporations and the wealthy. Many middle-class Americans are likely to see at least a modest tax cut, although some people in high-tax states could lose out from the bill’s new limits on state, local and property tax deductions.

At press time, the Senate was expected to vote on the bill later on Tuesday night, which would set up the final vote in the House on Wednesday. The legislation would then go to the White House for Trump’s signature.

Democrats hammered the GOP over the bill, arguing its benefits are tilted to corporations and the rich, and that the procedural problems at the end point to a rushed process. No Democrats have backed the tax bill at any time, which would have been a surprise at the beginning of the year.

“The House revote is the latest evidence of just how shoddily written the GOP tax scam really is,” said House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocratic convention lineup to include Ocasio-Cortez, Clinton, Warren: reports Trump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet New postmaster general overhauls USPS leadership amid probe into mail delays MORE (D-Calif.).

The legislation would add about $1.4 trillion to the deficit, though that figure could rise above $2 trillion if temporary provisions are extended.

If economic growth is considered, independent analysis still finds the bill would add at least $1 trillion to the deficit, though the White House and Republicans have repeatedly argued that those estimates undercount growth that will be sparked by the bill.

The relative lack of GOP infighting during consideration of the tax overhaul is a dramatic turnaround from a summer when lawmakers openly fretted that the failure to repeal and replace ObamaCare would overshadow, and potentially take down, their tax plan.

An eagerness among Republicans to demonstrate that they can govern heading into the 2018 midterm elections helped drive the rapid pace for their first big legislative accomplishment.

“We're confident this will work, and we're prepared to take that argument to the American people next fall,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCoronavirus talks collapse as negotiators fail to reach deal Pelosi, Schumer say White House declined T coronavirus deal COVID-19 bill limiting liability would strike the wrong balance MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters on Tuesday.

Yet it’s unclear if passing the tax plan will actually help save Republicans’ congressional majorities next year. Public polling shows a favorability rating of just under 30 percent for the GOP tax plan, which is less support than ObamaCare had when Democrats passed it in 2010.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynCOVID-19 bill limiting liability would strike the wrong balance From a Republican donor to Senate GOP: Remove marriage penalty or risk alienating voters Skepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal MORE (R-Texas), asked why the bill polled poorly, pointed to “misinformation” and “lying.”

“So many people are lying about it, for one thing. ... Unfortunately that sort of information tends to get around faster than the truth, so it’s our job to try to tell the truth about it,” he said.

Protesters repeatedly interrupted proceedings in both chambers as Republicans touted the benefits of their tax plan.

One protester in the Senate interrupted GOP Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchSenate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  Five takeaways as panel grills tech CEOs Trump awards medal of freedom to former congressman, Olympian Jim Ryun MORE’s (Utah) floor speech, yelling “save our health care” and “you’re fired” — an apparent reference to Trump’s catchphrase from  NBC’s “The Apprentice.”

Despite the negative polling, Republicans believe the public will eventually appreciate the changes once they file taxes under the new system.

“This is the gamble that Democrats are making. They’re lying to the public, and they’re going to get exposed by February when the new brackets are out,” said Rep. Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsNY Republican Chris Jacobs wins special election to replace Chris Collins 5 things to watch in Tuesday's primaries Trump drags mild-mannered regulator into political firefight MORE (R-N.Y.).

Beyond restructuring the tax code, the bill would repeal ObamaCare’s individual mandate requiring people to buy health insurance and open up a section of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling.

Only 12 House Republicans opposed the legislation, along with all Democrats.

All but one of the House GOP defectors represent districts in high-tax blue states that would be adversely impacted by the new curbs on the state and local tax deduction. The legislation caps the deduction at $10,000.

Rep. Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney Procter FrelinghuysenBottom line Republican lobbying firms riding high despite uncertainty of 2020 race Ex-Rep. Frelinghuysen joins law and lobby firm MORE (R-N.J.), the first-term chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, was among the dozen defectors. He warned that the legislation “forces New Jersey residents to pay for tax cuts for residents in other states.”

The two provisions expected to be stripped from the bill because of the budgetary rules relate to the use of 529 accounts for home-schooling expenses and an exemption from the endowment excise tax for universities with fewer than 500 students paying tuition, according to multiple congressional sources.

Republicans said the hiccup won’t keep the bill from reaching Trump’s desk this week.

“The House will vote [Wednesday] to send the final bill to the president’s desk,” said a spokesperson for the Ways and Means Committee. “Chairman Brady will work to restore these provisions in a future tax bill.”