The giant Senate tax bill barely squeaked by a critical test

  • Senate Republicans released their version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Thursday.
  • The Joint Committee on Taxation found that the bill would add $US1.4957 trillion to the national debt, just under a $US1.5 trillion limit to pass under a key Senate rule.

Senate Republicans released their version of legislation to overhaul the federal tax code on Thursday, and already the bill has scored a small but important win.

The Joint Committee on Taxation, the nonpartisan Congressional research service, said the Senate’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) would add $US1.4957 trillion to the national debt between 2018 and 2027. Under the Senate rules, the TCJA can only add $US1.5 trillion over that time period.

This means that the massive plan scrapes by the limit by just about $US300 million.

While it’s likely that the bill was designed specifically to fit inside the window, the test is critically important for Republicans because the bill is moving through the Senate via the budget reconciliation process.

Within the recently-passed 2018 budget resolution, the Senate attached rules that allows it to pass one piece of legislation using the budget reconciliation process.

Reconciliation allows a bill to pass with a simple majority vote — and, in this case, bypass a potential Democratic filibuster. Since Republicans control 52 seats in the chamber, it means the bill could be passed on a party-line basis.

But reconciliation rules also mandate that the bill can’t add debt outside the 10-year budget window. Already, according to reports, some Senate GOP aides have said the current bill’s construction likely doesn’t meet that provision.

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