The Senate tax bill is moving closer to a climactic final passage, but it faced an unexpected threat on Thursday after a new analysis found that it would increase the debt far more than party leaders had claimed.
Republican leaders were scrambling to rewrite portions of the far-reaching bill overnight on Thursday to win over deficit hawks and lock down the 50 GOP votes they’ll need to push it over the line. By Friday morning, they had secured the support of two holdouts, Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Steve Daines of Montana, who were demanding more favorable treatment of so-called “pass through” companies whose owners file their taxes as individuals. But Republicans still had a few more senators to secure ahead of a final vote expected later on Friday.
“We’re confident of the 50 and we’d like to build on that,” Senator John Cornyn told reporters on Friday, according to Bloomberg. While Republicans can pass the tax bill with just 50 votes and the tie-breaking assent of Vice President Mike Pence. But it would leave them with no margin for error as they head into negotiations on a final bill with the House, which would still have to pass both chambers.
A day earlier, a group of GOP senators led by Bob Corker of Tennessee refused for more than a hour to vote down a Democratic bid to defeat the $1.4 trillion tax cut. After huddling and trading proposals with colleagues on the Senate floor, the lawmakers each voted with their fellow Republicans to allow the measure to advance. However, Corker’s support for the chamber’s final legislation, which will soon go up for a vote, is still in doubt: The Senate parliamentarian ruled that his proposal for a tax-hike “trigger” would not comply with the chamber’s strict rules for passing bills with only a simple-majority vote. Corker and Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican, said the party would now consider automatically rolling back some of the plan’s tax cuts to secure its eventual approval.