Capitol Report: Senate passes tax bill, advancing top Republican priority

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Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, passed their tax bill early Saturday morning, bringing the GOP a step closer to their top policy goal.

The Senate early Saturday passed a sweeping tax-code overhaul almost entirely along party lines, advancing a top policy goal of congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump.

The bill passed the chamber 51 to 49, with the only Republican “no” vote coming from Tennessee’s Bob Corker, who cited concerns about the deficit.

No Democrats voted for the bill, which would cut corporate and individual taxes; expand the estate-tax exemption; and repeal Obamacare’s individual-insurance mandate, among many other provisions.

See: The Trump tax calculator — will you pay more or less?

Senate passage brings Republicans closer to achieving their top domestic priority, but the version passed Friday differs in some respects from the House’s. The two chambers must agree on a single bill before sending it to Trump for signature. The House bill doesn’t include the Obamacare mandate repeal, and would cut the corporate rate to 20% next year. The Senate’s bill would delay that cut until 2019.

The Senate vote came after tense deliberations that saw holdout GOP lawmakers slowly announce their support. Maine’s Susan Collins got on board after saying leaders agreed to include her amendment allowing up to $10,000 in state and local property tax deductions. Sens. Ron Johnson and Steve Daines said they won bigger benefits for pass-through businesses.

The bill cuts taxes by more than $1.4 trillion over 10 years. The Joint Committee on Taxation said the revenue the bill would generate wouldn’t be nearly enough to cover that cost.

Corker said in a statement that he wanted to vote “yes” on the bill. “But at the end of the day, I am not able to cast aside my fiscal concerns and vote for legislation that I believe, based on the information I currently have, could deepen the debt burden on future generations.”

The Senate bill’s individual tax cuts expire after 2025.

Democrats ripped the bill as a giveaway to corporations and the wealthy, and slammed the late release of the bill’s revised text, which included handwritten notes in its margins.

“Read the bill? They’re still writing it by hand, mere hours before voting on it,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Hours later, after the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said: “You complain about process when you’re losing.”

Enactment of a tax bill would be a political victory for Republicans, who are heading into next year’s midterm elections having failed to repeal Obamacare earlier this year.