Senate committee advances GOP tax bill, moving closer to floor vote

President Donald Trump

Rep. Kevin Brady, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, made his comments Tuesday as Senate Republican leaders pushed to pass their bill this week.

The committee meeting was a dramatic moment for the bill, as the votes of at least two GOP senators were uncertain until they were cast.

Republican committee members quickly left the room after the vote as Democrats complained about a lack of discussion on a bill that would overhaul the US tax code and add an estimated $1.4 trillion to the $20 trillion national debt over 10 years.

But Republican Senate leaders, handicapped by their narrow two-vote advantage over Democrats, still lacked the votes to ensure that a bill that could be sent to the Senate floor as early as Wednesday can pass.

The national debt has now topped $20 trillion, and several Republican senators have expressed concerns about more debt piling up as a result of the tax overhaul.

These include changing the rates on individual tax brackets, almost doubling the standard deduction, eliminating personal exemptions, expanding the child tax credit and repealing the state and local tax deduction.

"Think of sitting there with a Rubik's cube trying to get to 50 [votes]", the Kentucky Republican told reporters. Republicans control 52 seats in the Senate, and with Democrats' caucus members expected to unanimously oppose the measure, the bill appears set to fail if three or more GOP Senators vote against it.

Senator Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, said he plans an amendment to make marijuana businesses eligible for tax breaks.

Republican Senator Susan Collins of ME has said she backs two provisions in the House bill - retaining an individual income tax deduction for state and local property taxes, capped at $10,000 a year, and keeping the existing top individual tax rate of 39.6 percent for those making $1 million or more.

Trump also portrays the meeting as being with Democrats "Chuck and Nancy".

"We need an affirmative vote out of the budget committee", Sen. Senate GOP leaders hope to pass the bill this week. But the bill repealed the deduction for income or sales taxes.

The White House called the committee action "an important step toward passing historic tax relief and reform".

The independent Congressional Budget Office concluded in a new report Sunday that the Senate version of the tax changes would give substantial cuts and benefits to those who earn more than $100,000 a year, while the country's poorest taxpayers would be worse off. Collins said the Senate bill would be amended to allow homeowners to deduct up to $10,000 in property taxes, which is similar to a provision in the House-passed bill.

The House's chief tax-writer says ending the "Obamacare" requirement that everyone have health insurance - an element of the Senate bill - is a move the House also is likely to accept.

"If we could take the entire individual side of this, throw it in the trash can, and take it directly to the incinerator, I would be thrilled", he said.

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