Home / World News / Senate rushes tax bill ahead, but Republicans split over key details – The Denver Post

Senate rushes tax bill ahead, but Republicans split over key details – The Denver Post

WASHINGTON – A massive GOP tax bill cleared a key procedural hurdle in the Senate on Wednesday, as lawmakers voted 52 to 48 to move the legislation forward toward a showdown vote on final passage by week’s end.

The party-line vote was an important victory for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and President Donald Trump, signaling support and momentum for the legislation that overhauls the tax code for the first time in three decades while delivering enormous cuts to corporations and the wealthy.

But it was not a guarantee of ultimate success, as several Republican lawmakers agreed to open debate on the bill so they could pursue amendments and have not yet committed to voting for final passage. Key issues that remained included how to prevent the bill from driving up the federal deficit by too much and whether to shift more of the legislation’s rewards from corporations, which are some of the bill’s main beneficiaries, to working-class families, who receive more modest benefits.

“Passing tax reform is the single most important thing we can do right now to shift the economy into high gear and deliver much-needed relief to American families,” McConnell said on the Senate floor ahead of Wednesday’s vote, as he urged fellow Republicans to support the measure to open debate.

Passage of the “motion to proceed” started the clock on 20 hours of debate on the legislation, which will be followed by a “vote-a-rama” in which lawmakers can offer endless amendments into all hours of the night Thursday. Then will come the final vote.

With Democrats unanimously opposed, McConnell can lose only two GOP senators in the closely divided Senate and still prevail on the bill. Despite well-documented disagreements between McConnell and Trump, the tax legislation is the top goal for both men as they pursue a tax cut sought by donors and corporations, as well as a political victory to present to voters ahead of next year’s midterm elections.

Numerous issues were being negotiated throughout the day Wednesday, the most problematic being demands from GOP Sen. Bob Corker, Tenn., and others for a “trigger” to kick in and raise taxes if economic growth estimates don’t pan out.

Corker’s demand for the trigger provision stems from concern over how the bill would affect the federal budget. The total package of tax cuts is projected to add $1.4 trillion to $1.5 trillion over 10 years to the federal budget deficit.

Republicans have promised that the package of tax cuts would spur more economic growth, leading to more investment, hiring and higher wages for workers. But many economists dispute these forecasts, and Corker has sought assurances that some steps would automatically be taken if growth doesn’t materialize.

Details of Corker’s trigger idea remained in flux Wednesday. Negotiators were looking at a package that would raise taxes by as much as $350 billion if the economy doesn’t grow by more than 0.4 percent yearly above a baseline established by the Congressional Budget Office, according to several people briefed on the discussions. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to reveal private negotiations.

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