The U.S. Senate passed early Saturday its version of tax reform by a 51-49 vote that split along party lines.
The bill passed despite anti-Trump Republican Senator Bob Corker (TN) voting with all 47 Democrats and two Independents against the bill. Corker favored a liberal-friendly “trigger” added to the legislation that would have re-raised taxes if deficits increased in future years. Corker’s desired change was killed when the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the trigger would make it impossible to consider the bill under rules allowing a simple majority vote for passage.
“This is yet another tough vote,” Corker said. “I am disappointed. I wanted to get to yes. 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 House passed its version last month but the two bills are very different which will require a conference committee to resolve. The Senate’s plan as last released contains 7 tax brackets, has a lower “pass-thru” rate for small businesses, removes the Obamacare mandate, has different tax rates in key brackets, handles State and Local Tax deductions differently, does not repeal the estate tax and did not repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax. The version of the bill that passed the Senate and the amendments that modified it before passage have not yet been made public so it is impossible at this time to know which of the proposed changes to the House version were passed.
The House and Senate bills now go to a bicameral conference committee to resolve the differences. If a bill results from the committee, both chambers will have to vote on it and get it to the president for signing. GOP leadership has signaled that they would like to have a bill on the president’s desk by Christmas.
President Donald Trump spoke to reporters Saturday morning as he departed for New York City.
“We passed the largest tax cuts in the history of our country and many other things along with it,” the president said. “Now we go onto conference and something beautiful is going to come out of that mixer. People are going to be very, very happy. They’re going to get tremendous, tremendous tax cuts and tax relief, and that’s what this country needs.”