WASHINGTON–With 51 Republican votes, the Senate narrowly approved a massive bill early Saturday that would cut taxes for many Americans, nearly double the standard deduction and dramatically reduce the corporate rate — all while adding more than $1 trillion to the deficit over the next decade.
Senate Republicans passed the measure just hours after having to rewrite the legislation Friday evening, providing them with their first major legislative win of the year.
GOP lawmakers scrambled to revise their bill after the parliamentarian ruled the deficit trigger — a necessary component to sway key lawmakers to get on board with the bill — didn’t comply with the Byrd Rule Thursday evening. Despite the last-minute challenge, Republicans managed to come to an agreement Friday that placated enough members to bring the bill to the floor.
President Donald Trump praised the passage of the legislation in the Senate tweeting early Saturday morning, “We are one step closer to delivering MASSIVE tax cuts for working families across America. Special thanks to @SenateMajLdr Mitch McConnell and Chairman @senorrinhatch for shepherding our bill through the Senate. Look forward to signing a final bill before Christmas!”
“It was extended conversations that went on into the late hours of the night and continued early in the morning,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said of the negotiations Friday ahead of the vote, adding he believes the legislation made “significant improvements.”
Cruz later told The Daily Caller after the legislation passed,“Tonight was a terrific victory for the American people. It was a victory for job creators. It was a victory for small businesses for farmers for ranchers. For hard-working American families that want to see more jobs want to see higher wages and more opportunity. This tax bill is a historic tax cut designed to bring back jobs to raise wages and to help the American family.”
Democrats blasted Republicans for their hurried approach, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proposing a motion to adjourn until Monday afternoon, but the motion was summarily shot down along party lines.
“I remember a few years back, when my Republican colleagues gleefully scolded us to “read the bill” because the Affordable Care Act was a lengthy piece of legislation – and that bill was available for days before anyone had to vote on it,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “With this stunning deception…with this reckless ramrodding of a bill…Republicans are reaching heretofore unreached heights of hypocrisy, and the Senate is descending to a new low of chicanery. Read the bill? They’re still writing it by hand, mere hours before voting on it.”
Despite criticisms ample time was not provide to properly review the bill, McConnell defended Republicans approach to crafting the legislation.
“This was done through the regular order — the Democrats had plenty of notice, Chairman Hatch can attest the multiple hearings, markups, open amendment process,” he told reporters following the vote. “Everybody had plenty of opportunities to see the measure. You complain about the process when you’re losing and that’s what you heard tonight.”
Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker was the sole Republican to defect from his party, voting with Democrats against the measure. Key members of the conference helped bring the bill over the finish line when Arizona Sen. John McCain, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and Maine Sen. Susan Collins announced their support at the end of the week. All three Republicans previously voted against the repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act back in September.
While economists project the bill would add more than $1 trillion to the deficit, McConnell said he thinks the estimates are flawed.
“I’m totally confident this is a revenue neutral bill — I think it’s going to be a revenue producer,” he said. “As we’ve said over and over and over again and over and over again, the $1.5 trillion deficit only needs to be filled. It only requires us to grow more four-tenths of 1 percent over the next 10 years. Goodness gracious, that’s very much achievable.”
The bill is now expected to be conferenced with the House, which overwhelmingly passed its bill earlier this month.