Posted: 5:18 pm Tuesday, December 19th, 2017
By Jamie Dupree
Setting the stage for a major legislative victory for GOP leaders in Congress and President Donald Trump on taxes, the House on Tuesday afternoon approved a sweeping overhaul of the federal tax code, as Republicans declared that it would spur new job creation, and boost economic growth in the United States. But a final celebration had to be delayed until Wednesday because of several minor Senate budget rule violations in the bill, which will require a new vote in the House, but won’t derail the measure.
“Don’t vote for the status quo,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) during the House floor debate. “Vote for a tax cut.”
“It’s going to be a huge economic engine for us in driving job creation,” said Rep. Karen Handel (R-GA), as most GOP lawmakers embraced the Republican plan.
“It’s good for hard-working families, they get to keep more of their money up front,” said Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL).
The final tally in the House was 227-203, sending the bill to the Senate for an expected vote tonight. 12 House Republicans voted against the GOP plan, joining all Democrats in opposition, as an excited Speaker Paul Ryan announced the final vote.
Soon after debate began in the Senate, word arrived that the Parliamentarian had found several provisions which ran afoul of the Senate’s strict “Byrd Rule” governing budget reconciliation measures – which can avoid a Senate filibuster.
Officials said three small provisions would have to be taken out of the bill in the Senate. After approval by Senators, the altered measure would be sent back to the House for a final vote on Wednesday morning.
Here is the description from Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee on what would have to be changed:
While the rules mix up was somewhat embarrassing, there was no threat that the bill would collapse, ensuring a GOP victory on the issue of tax cuts and tax reform.
“17 years ago, I got elected to Congress, campaigning on tax reform,” said Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH), as Republicans repeatedly reminded voters that it had been 31 years since the last major change in the tax code.
“Absolutely, this is why we came here,” said Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), who said he had told voters he was “fed up” with federal government policies when he first ran for Congress in 2012.
On the House floor, Democrats argued in vain against the deal, saying it was nothing more than a boon to the rich.
“The GOP has proposed a tax bill that Ebeneezer Scrooge would love,” said Rep. Cathy Castor (D-FL).
I oppose this conference report with every bone in my body. This tax bill is a $2.3 trillion holiday gift for Wall Street, the rich, and the wealthy. Conceived in darkness and birthed with the help of donors and funders. This bill is not for the people. It is not tax reform.
— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) December 19, 2017
“The Republicans have provided a new across-the-board tax cut for billionaires,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), one of many Democrats who charged that middle-income Americans would actually see a tax increase.
“This bill should be named the Republican Donor Class Relief Act,” said Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), as Democrats labeled the bill as a “tax scam.”
While no Democrats supported the GOP tax bill, opponents were unable to convince enough Republicans to join them in an effort to derail the bill, as this plan seems headed for approval in the Senate by tonight.
“I think we’ve got the votes,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), as unlike the GOP debacle over plans to overhaul the Obama health law, this bill seems to be on course, headed ultimately to President Trump for his signature, as Republicans close in on what would be their first – and maybe only – major legislative victory in the Congress in 2017.
“It is a great day,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA). “It is a big day.”
Some of the highlights of the GOP plan include:
+ Seven individual tax brackets of 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37%.
The current individual brackets are 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35% and 39.6%.
+ Standard deduction almost doubled $6,350/$12,700 to $12,000/$24,000
+ State and local taxes change will only allow you to deduct up to $10,000 for sales, income and property taxes – this is a big change for those who itemize.
+ Mortgage interest deduction limit lowered to $750,000 from $1 million. No change for current mortgages (they are grandfathered in).
+ Zeroes out the individual mandate tax penalty in 2019 under the Obama health law – note the date – not in 2018. Still in effect next year.
+ Does not change tax exemption on reduced tuition awards for graduate students, and employer tuition aid at colleges and universities.
+ Alternative Minimum Tax lives on for individuals, but the exemption limit is increased.
+ Federal estate tax is not abolished, but the plan doubles the amount of the inheritance exemption.
+ Corporate tax rate lowered to 21% – original plan was 20%.
+ Almost all business tax changes are permanent in the GOP bill.
+ Almost all individual tax changes in the bill expire after 2025 (8 years).
If you want to read more about the details of the bill, this is the 570 page explanation that has been put out by Republicans in the Congress.