Corker and Rubio reverse course, and the GOP tax bill now looks like a slam dunk to pass

Sara D. Davis/Getty ImagesPresident Donald Trump and Sen. Bob Corker.
  • Sen. Marco Rubio said on Friday that he would vote for the GOP tax bill, reversing course from a day earlier.
  • Sen. Bob Corker, the only Republican to vote against the Senate’s version of the bill, also said on Friday that he would support the final legislation.
  • They appear to have cleared the way for the bill’s passage early next week.

Republicans appear to have wrapped up the votes they need to pass their final tax bill after a pair of GOP senators – Marco Rubio and Bob Corker – reversed course on Friday and said they would support the legislation.

The bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, was finalised this week by a conference committee made up mostly of members of the House and Senate committees that wrote the versions that those chambers passed.

Corker, the only Republican to vote against the Senate’s version earlier this month, said in a statement that the final bill was not perfect but would do enough to help the economy to get his vote.

“In the end, after 11 years in the Senate, I know every bill we consider is imperfect and the question becomes is our country better off with or without this piece of legislation,” Corker said. “I think we are better off with it. I realise this is a bet on our country’s enterprising spirit, and that is a bet I am willing to make.”

Corker called President Donald Trump to tell him about his decision.

“The president greatly appreciates Senator Corker’s phone call and pledge to support tax cuts,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said.

Corker had been concerned about the nearly $US1.5 trillion in debt the bill is projected to add over the next 10 years.

Rubio said earlier Friday that he would vote for the final tax bill, roughly one day after threatening to vote against it if the child tax credit were not made more generous.

The bill proposes expanding the child tax credit to $US2,000 per dependent from the current $US1,000.

But it had called for capping the amount of the credit that was refundable – and thus available to low-income workers who don’t have a tax burden – at $US1,100.

After Rubio’s threat, the tax-bill writers upped the amount to $US1,400 – apparently enough to satisfy him.

“For far too long, Washington has ignored and left behind the American working class,” Rubio tweeted Friday. “Increasing the refundability of the Child Tax Credit from 55% to 70% is a solid step toward broader reforms which are both Pro-Growth and Pro-Worker.”

Rubio’s and Corker’s support is a huge win for Republican leaders, who cannot afford to lose more than two GOP senators for the bill to pass.

With the pair’s support, the bill is likely to pass when it comes to the floor for a vote, expected early next week.

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