Senate approves Republican tax reform bill

Senate approves Republican tax reform bill

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U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Gage Skidmore/ Flickr)

WASHINGTON – The Senate early Saturday morning approved the tax reform bill Republican lawmakers crafted in conjunction with the Trump administration.

The upper chamber approved the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in a 51-49 vote.

Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee joined the Senate’s 46 Democrats and two independent members in opposing the bill.

The legislation proposes $1.5 trillion in tax cuts.

The 20-hour debate began on Wednesday afternoon following a vote procedural vote on a motion to proceed.

Thursday saw debate over numerous Democratic amendments that proposed sending the legislation back to the Finance Committee and concluded late in the evening with passage somewhat in doubt.

Friday morning prospects improved as GOP Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Steve Daines  of Montana announced that they would support the measure after having previously declared their intention to oppose it.

A short time later, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who had expressed concern that the legislation would increase the deficit, announced that he would vote for the bill pursuant to an agreement to eliminate an $85 billion business deduction.

Centrist Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins’ Friday afternoon announcement that she would support the measure negated the possibility of Vice President Mike Pence having to cast a tie-breaking vote.

Throughout the process Republican leaders cautiously counted votes mindful of the fact that passage would almost certainly fail if more than two of their own voted no.

The legislation was amended several times in the hours leading up to the final vote.

Last-minute provisions include language retaining the alternative minimum tax (AMT) as well as a provision from the House-approved bill permitting state and local property tax (SALT) deductions that do not exceed $10,000.

Senate passage constitutes the first major legislative victory of the year for both Republican lawmakers and the Trump Administration.

The legislation now heads to a joint conference committee to reconcile differences between the Senate bill and its House counterpart.

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