GOP Tax Plan Clears Legislative Hurdle

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The Senate Republican tax plan has passed in the chamber's Budget Committee, enabling the legislation to be up for a full chamber vote. Senate Republicans are corralling votes to pass the tax bill through budget reconciliation while Senate Democrats have blasted their efforts, asserting that the plan would primarily benefit corporations, harm the middle class and destabilize health care markets.

On Nov. 28, the Senate Budget Committee passed the GOP tax bill by a party-line vote of 12 to 11. The vote was interrupted by protesters who flooded the chamber urging the Senate to reject the tax plan, Reuters reports.

"Kill the bill, don't kill us," the protesters chanted before being removed from the chamber by law enforcement. The protesters, many of them visibly disabled, were reportedly singling out the GOP tax plan's provision to repeal the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act. Critics of the proposal have warned that removing the requirement for all Americans to purchase health insurance or face a tax penalty would destabilize health care markets and raise costs for patients with medical problems.

"Repealing the individual mandate will affect insurance markets everywhere ... Rural areas could be especially hard hit," Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation told the Los Angeles Times.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump heralded the vote during a meeting with Republican Senators at the White House.

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"It was very, very special," Trump said of the committee vote, according to NBC News. "The camaraderie. It was somewhat of a love fest. They want to see [tax cuts] happen."

The GOP tax plan would permanently reduce to corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. Cuts to individual tax rates would expire by 2025 and several tax breaks used by the middle class would be eliminated.

The legislation would add roughly $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit over 10 years, which Senate Republicans have asserted would be offset by improved economic growth. GOP Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who previously expressed concern about the tax plan's impact on the deficit, proposed inserting a provision into the bill that would automatically raise taxes if economic growth fell below expectations.

"We got a commitment that puts us in a pretty good place," Corker said, indicating growing support for the bill.

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GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who had also expressed concerns with the tax plan, signaled that she would vote for the bill after speaking with Trump.

"I believe that a lot of my concerns, it appears, are going to be addressed and that I'm going to be getting the opportunity to offer amendments on the Senate floor," Collins said, according to The New York Times.

Senate Republicans hope to hold a floor vote on the bill within the week. They are aiming to pass the legislation through budget reconciliation, which would only require a simple majority and bypass the need for any Democratic support. Senate Republicans currently hold 52 seats in the chamber and would need 50 votes to pass the bill.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, blasted his Republican colleagues on the Senate floor for attempting to cut any Democratic input from the tax bill.

"It's an issue crying out for a bipartisan solution," Schumer. “There are a lot of areas we agree. We have to work to find a middle ground that’s acceptable to both parties."

Sources: Los Angeles TimesNBC News, The New York Times, Reuters / Featured Image: Bill Koplitz/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Chris Potter/Flickr, U.S. Embassy Moldova/Flickr

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