Senate Passes Sweeping Tax Reform Legislation

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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The Senate passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act along party lines in a vote early Wednesday morning

The bill is slated to pass the House a second time Wednesday after the measure was tweaked Tuesday afternoon to comply with Senate procedural rules.

Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain was absent for the vote after being hospitalized last week due to complications from his cancer treatment.

Following the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s proud of the legislation they crafted and is confident the country will be satisfied with changes it will make to the economy,

“My view of this is if we cant sell this to the American people we ought to move into another line of work,” he told reporters. “This is an important accomplishment for the country that people will value and appreciate, but obviously it requires us to continue this discussion with the American people, and we’re all going to be doing that throughout the year.”

The bill delivers the largest overhaul to the tax code seen since 1986, and Republicans said they’re confident the changes will spark economic growth and increase wages.

“As we go forward, I want American taxpayers to think of three dates and keep them in mind. New year’s day, America will have a new tax code for a new era of American prosperity,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady told reporters following the House vote Tuesday afternoon. “February 1, look at your paychecks. Because you’ll see the tax relief we delivered today. On April 15, you will for the last time file your taxes under this horrible, terrible tax code that we’re putting behind us for the American people.

Conferees released the final bill Friday evening after days of negotiations. Senate Democrats opted to challenge a number of provisions, arguing they didn’t comply with the Byrd Rule — a reconciliation bill requirement.

The $1.5 trillion tax package dramatically reduces the corporate rate from 39.5 percent to 21 percent and brings down individual rates. It includes seven individual tax brackets falling at 10 percent, 12 percent, 22 percent, 24 percent, 32 percent, 35 percent and 37 percent.

While GOP lawmakers aim to make both the individual and corporate reductions permanent, the individual rate deduction is slated to expire in 2025.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said GOP lawmakers will work to ensure the reduced rates remain intact down the line.

“We have every intent to make those permanent, because of the Senate Rules you know why that sunset is there,” he told reporters.

In addition to slashing rates, the bill doubles the standard deduction, allows for the deduction of state and local taxes up to $10,000, expands the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000 — which is fully deductible up to $1,400 for families making under $400,000 — and allows homeowners to deduct mortgage interest on their first and second homes up to $750,000.

Republicans praised the bill as a major step toward economic growth, larger paychecks and a simpler tax code. Despite the GOP’s assertion the bill will benefit almost all Americans, Democrats have widely criticized Republicans for how the bill was crafted, arguing it favors the wealthy and corporations over the middle class.

Following the GOP’s botched attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act earlier this year, the bill’s is critical for Republicans looking for a win ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

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