- The Senate passed the Republican tax bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, early Saturday morning.
- The TCJA passed by a vote of 51-49, with Sen. Bob Corker being the only Republican to vote against it.
- The bill can either be passed as is by the House – or the two chambers will go to a conference committee.
The Senate passed the Republican tax reform bill early Saturday in a massive win for the party and President Donald Trump, who has seen many of his agenda items stall in the legislature during his first year in office.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed on a vote of 51 to 49. Sen. Bob Corker was the only Republican to vote against the bill, which, among other things, proposes to cut the corporate rate to 20% while changing individual tax brackets and significantly undercutting portions of the Affordable Care Act. Its passage brings Republicans a step closer to their first major legislative achievement in the Trump presidency.
Trump applauded the passage of the Senate Republican tax bill on Saturday.
“Biggest Tax Bill and Tax Cuts in history just passed in the Senate,” Trump tweeted. “Now these great Republicans will be going for final passage. Thank you to House and Senate Republicans for your hard work and commitment!”
Trump added that the bill’s passage brought the US “one step closer to delivering MASSIVE tax cuts for working families across America.” He also thanked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Orrin Hatch, the second highest-ranking Republican in the chamber, for “shepherding our bill through the Senate. Look forward to signing a final bill before Christmas!”
The vote came just three weeks after Republicans introduced the original version. It came just hours after the text of the final version of the bill was released. GOP leaders moved the bill through the chamber at breakneck speed as they attempt to send legislation to Trump’s desk by Christmas.
“You complain about process when you’re losing,” McConnell said of Democratic objections. “And that’s what you heard on the floor tonight.”
McConnell and Republican leaders won over a slew of sceptical Republican members in recent days to pass the bill. On Monday, as many as 10 GOP lawmakers were on the fence or against it, but significant last-minute changes were enough to ensure their support.
The changes forced the debate to stretch for hours, as Republicans released a final version of their bill with adjustments scribbled in the margins of the text.
The last-minute adjustments and final passage overcame a steady trickle of rough analyses of the bill. While Republican leaders and Trump administration officials promised as recently as three weeks ago that the bill would pay for itself with economic growth, the analyses have been universal: They have shown that the bill would add roughly $US1 trillion or more to the federal deficit over 10 years, even when accounting for the growth.
The reports from various organisations, as well as the official government scorekeeper, the Joint Committee on Taxation, showed the Senate TCJA would produce only a modest boost to the US economy that would fade over time. They also found that while most would see a tax cut in the initial years of the legislation, many would see little change or an increase over time.
What comes next
Since the Senate TCJA is different from the House version of the bill, the legislation must either go to a conference committee – where members from both chambers unify the differing aspects – or the House could pass the Senate bill as it is.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, applauding the Senate’s passage of the bill, said the two chambers would move “quickly” to a conference committee. Additionally, Rep. Kevin Brady – the chair of the House Ways and Means committee and author of the House TCJA – said in a statement that he plans to go to a conference committee.
“Now it’s time to take the best of both the House and Senate bills, make them even stronger in a conference committee, and finalise one piece of legislation that will dramatically improve the lives of Americans for generations to come,” Brady said.
Following the passage of the bill, members on both sides of the aisle reacted swiftly. Republicans celebrated the step forward, saying that the bill will help to reinvigorate the US economy.
“This is a big moment for American families and small businesses ready to turn the page on an Obama-era recovery that has been far too sluggish,” GOP Sen. John Cornyn, the second-highest ranking Republican, said in a statement. “Simplifying our nation’s tax code is the jump start our economy needs to bring jobs back and leave more money in the pockets of hardworking Texans.”
On the other hand, Democrats decried changes to the Affordable Care Act and cuts for corporations.
“I offered to work with the President and Republicans, and I introduced multiple amendments that could have put real money in the pockets of Ohioans,” Sen. Sherrod Brown said in a statement. “Instead Washington chose to cut taxes for corporations that send American jobs overseas, blow a hole in the deficit, and pay for it by cutting Medicare and kicking people off their health insurance.”
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