Republican Tax Bill Heads to a Vote

Right Now: Debate on the Tax Bill Has Begun in the House Ahead of an Expected Vote This Afternoon.

• The House has begun debate on the final $1.5 trillion tax bill on Tuesday morning and vote in the early afternoon.

• The Senate is expected to follow with its own debate and a vote, possibly on Tuesday evening.

• Republicans scored two additional yes votes with Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine publicly supporting the bill.

The day Republicans have been anxiously awaiting is here as they plan move their $1.5 trillion legislation to a vote first in the House, followed by a Senate vote.

The Senate, in which the party has a much narrower majority — just 52-48 — than the House, scored two significant wins on Monday when Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine said they would back the bill. With Bob Corker of Tennessee also on board, the tax overhaul appears headed to passage, even without the vote of Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who has returned home to receive medical treatment.

If all goes as planned and no Republicans defect, the bill should arrive on President Trump’s desk before the Christmas deadline the party has outlined.

The bill is done and dusted and while the lawmakers are debating the bill on the House floor this morning, it will not alter its content or trajectory.

Republicans are expected to continue promoting the benefits of the tax cut as helping the middle-class while Democrats will continue to assail the bill as a gift to corporations and the wealthy.

Several changes in the legislation were made late last week when the House and Senate versions were reconciled. Here is what is in the tax bill.

Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee told The New York Times that he faced a “tough” decision in backing a tax bill that is projected to add to the deficit.

Mr. Corker had initially said he would oppose the final bill, then decided the $1.5 trillion tax cut was better for the nation than doing nothing at all.

“It’s been really tough, especially because I did think, I really felt like we could have had a bipartisan bill that would have really withstood more fully the test of time,” Mr. Corker said.

Still, theories about his switch continue to percolate. Some suggested Mr. Corker, who has said that he will not seek re-election to the Senate, may be rethinking his political future, while others asserted that he was bought off by a late-added provision that would benefit people with large real estate holdings, including him.

In an interview on Monday, Mr. Corker dismissed those theories and said he faced a wrenching decision as a Republican lawmaker with deep concerns about the country’s mounting debt and a strong desire to overhaul the tax code. In the end, he said, he put his fiscal principles aside on the assumption that the nation would be better off with the tax cuts than without.

Republicans might be preparing to celebrate the passage of their tax bill, but everyday taxpayers are not popping the champagne bottles just yet.

A new poll from CNN and SSRS found that the tax legislation continues to be unpopular with the general public, with 55 percent opposing the proposals and 33 percent supporting them. Opposition to the bill has jumped by 10 percentage points since early November.

More people think they will be worse off after the tax bill is signed into law, and a majority of people think the tax cuts will favor the rich rather than the middle class.

The survey, conducted from Thursday to Sunday, queried 1,001 adults by landline and cellphone.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin dismissed polling that suggests the tax bill is unpopular and attributed skepticism about the legislation to pundits spreading untruths on television.

He said that he was confident that once taxpayers saw more money in their paychecks and enjoyed the benefits of a simpler tax filing system, they would learn to appreciate the merits of the tax bill.

“Results are going to make this popular,” Mr. Ryan said at his weekly news conference.

Not all conservatives are jumping for joy over the prospect of tax cuts for Christmas.

The Club for Growth said on Tuesday that the $1.5 trillion tax bill Republicans are poised to sign “falls short of pro-growth expectations.”

The group wants Republicans to try again next year with a focus of lowering taxes for pass-through businesses, eliminating the estate tax completely, fully repealing the alternative minimum tax and getting rid of the rest of the Affordable Care Act’s taxes.

“There’s no reason we have to wait another 30 years to enact additional reform,” said David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth.

The original House bill passed without support from 13 Republicans, including 12 from the high-tax states of California, New York and New Jersey, where constituents could see their taxes go up because of a cap to the state and local tax deduction, known as SALT. The Senate and House bills both capped SALT at $10,000 and restricted it to deducting property taxes only.

The final tax bill still contains a cap of $10,000 but allows individuals to use that deduction for property taxes as well either income or sales taxes. But the change is not expected to be enough to win over many of the Republicans who voted against the House bill given they could be vulnerable to losing their seats if constituents feel a pinch from higher taxes.

The list of House Republicans planning to vote no over SALT objections as of now includes:

New York Representatives Lee Zeldin, Peter T. King, Dan Donovan, John J. Faso and Elise Stefanik

New Jersey Representatives Frank A. LoBiondo, Christopher H. Smith and Leonard Lance

California Representatives Darrell Issa and Dana Rohrabacher

Content originally published on by THE NEW YORK TIMES