The frenzy is building, and no, we don’t mean the countdown to Prince Harry’s wedding next year.
The Senate is racing to make changes to its tax bill to win over key holdouts — as many as nine Republicans who have publicly or privately expressed concerns about various effects of the legislation.
- Sens. Bob Corker (TN), Jeff Flake (AZ) and James Lankford (OK) and Jerry Moran (KS) have all warned about the deficit-raising costs of the bill. Lankford has proposed adding a mechanism to the bill to automatically raise taxes if the cuts don’t pay for themselves.
- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has urged lawmakers to return to regular order and might again decide to take up that mantle as the conscience of the Senate.
- Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Steve Daines (R-MT) reportedly are looking to increase the 17.4 percent deduction for pass-through businesses to 20 percent
- Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is reportedly seeking to have the Senate bill include the House version’s $10,000 deduction for state and local property taxes. She, Moran and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have also raised concerns about including repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate in the bill.
President Trump acknowledged that changes are coming. “The Tax Cut Bill is getting better and better. The end result will be great for ALL!” he tweeted Sunday night. He followed that up on Monday morning with a tweet calling for “just a few changes” to the tax plan:
The Tax Cut Bill is coming along very well, great support. With just a few changes, some mathematical, the middle class and job producers can get even more in actual dollars and savings and the pass through provision becomes simpler and really works well!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2017
But the math will be more complicated than just counting to 50. The tax plan can’t add more than $1.5 trillion to the deficit over 10 years, and the current plan leaves less than $100 billion in wiggle room. “Satisfying any one holdout could inflame others; for example, if Mr. Johnson succeeds in securing more generous tax cuts for pass-through businesses, the bill’s fiscal cost will likely rise, potentially upsetting Mr. Corker and other Republicans who have raised deficit concerns,” writes The New York Times’s Jim Tankersley.
The goal remains to hold a vote by the full Senate this week so that the bill can be reconciled with the House version if necessary (more on that below) and land on President Trump’s desk by Christmas. If the required 50 votes can’t be wrangled in time, the tax overhaul is likely to slip to 2018, or fall apart completely.