Republicans 'Confident' They Can Pass Tax Bill

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Republican leaders in the Senate say they are "confident" that they have enough votes to pass a controversial tax bill which would see a major overhaul of the current tax code.

The Senate began debating the bill Dec. 1, a version of which passed in the House just before Thanksgiving. In the amended Senate bill, all income groups would see an increase in their after-tax incomes, according to CNN. But after the tax cuts expire in 2025, benefits for middle- and-low income groups would largely disappear. 

The bill would also eliminate state and local tax deductions as well as repealing personal exemptions for individuals, meaning that Americans can no longer receive a $4,050 exemption for themselves and their listed dependents. 

Democrats have blasted the proposed bill, saying that it helps the nation's top 1 percent at the expense of the middle class.

"No tax breaks for the rich? I said that's great. Helping the middle class, working class? That's great. That's not what we're seeing," said Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, according to USA Today.

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The Republicans require 50 votes to pass the bill and, with 52 party members in the Senate, will need every vote they can get. 

The bill briefly hit a snag after Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee expressed concerns over the bill's $1 trillion price tag, according to The New York Times. Corker has long been an influential lawmaker who has had a hard stance against expanding the federal deficit. 

To maintain Corker's vote, Republicans were left scrambling to find hundreds of billions in dollars in extra revenue, briefly considering reducing the corporate tax rate to 25 percent instead of 20 percent.

But even without Corker's support, Republicans remain certain that they can pass the bill.

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"We haven’t given up, but right now we don’t have him," said Texas Sen. John Coryn of Corker.

Coryn also indicated that Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona may hold out as well, refusing to vote along party lines.

“We’re still talking with Senator Flake, too, but we’re confident of the 50,” Mr. Cornyn maintained.

But other Republicans have publicly said that they're not yet committed to a yes vote. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has worked with Utah Sen. Mike Lee for an amendment allowing lower-income families to expand the child tax credit. The two are also in favor of cutting the corporate tax rate to 22 percent instead of President Donald Trump's preferred 20 percent.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has also not yet made up her mind on the bill, indicating that the Republicans might have a tougher time than they thought getting the 50 votes necessary.

"I don’t know how Senator Cornyn can speak for me, I speak for myself," she said.

Sources: CNN, USA Today, The New York Times (2) / Featured Image: Sebastian Vital/Flickr / Embedded Images: Lawrence Jackson via Wikimedia Commons, RJ Schmidt/Flickr

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