John McCain just gave a big boost to the GOP tax bill

  • Sen. John McCain expressed satisfaction with the Senate’s use of regular order in the tax reform process.
  • The Republican tax plan is slated for a vote in two weeks after lawmakers return from Thanksgiving break.

Arizona Sen. John McCain applauded the Senate Finance Committee’s effort in shaping the tax reform plan, giving Republicans a sigh of relief as the bill heads to a vote in the coming weeks.

“I applaud Chairman Hatch and the Senate Finance Committee in taking another step forward in providing much-needed tax relief for hard working American families,” McCain said in a statement Friday. “I am pleased that the Finance Committee has followed the regular order by holding numerous hearings and spending four days debating the bill and considering amendments in committee.”

“As Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I value the process of moving important pieces of legislation through regular order,” he added. “I am hopeful that when we return from the Thanksgiving recess to consider tax reform on the Senate floor, we will see this process continue, with both sides of the aisle having sufficient opportunity to debate the merits of tax reform and offer amendments.”

One of McCain’s primary gripes during the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act was that his fellow Republicans were circumventing the regular order by which the Senate does its business. McCain ultimately voted against the “skinny repeal” effort in June, and his disapproval of the following repeal effort derailed the bill spearheaded by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy.

“The issue is too important, and too many lives are at risk, for us to leave the American people guessing from one election to the next whether and how they will acquire health insurance,” McCain said of the Graham-Cassidy bill in September. “A bill of this impact requires a bipartisan approach.”

But tax reform has been different for McCain, who expressed cautious optimism that the process would be better than healthcare in a September statement on the initial framework of the plan.

“Throughout this process, senators will no doubt disagree, and we’ll engage in vigorous argument over how best to bring sanity to our complicated tax system,” McCain said. “But I’m confident that by moving through the normal legislative process, we can produce a bill that reforms our tax system, boosts our economy, and improves the lives of the people we serve.”

However, McCain’s statement supporting the tax reform process might not be all Republicans need. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, another key-Republican swing vote, told Roll Call on Thursday that her vote for a tax plan including a repeal of the individual health insurance mandate as the Senate bill does, would have to be preceded by passage of the Alexander-Murray health care stabilisation bill.

“I think that there is a path and I think the path is a reasonable path,” Murkowski said. “If the Congress is going to move forward with repeal of the individual mandate, we absolutely must have the Alexander-Murray piece that is passed into law.”

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has already said he would not vote for the legislation in its current form. Republican leaders can lose only two of their conference to pass the bill.

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