Senate moves closer to vote on sweeping tax-reform bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mc Connell is optimistic about passing a final tax bill

Bob Corker, R-Tenn., was the only lawmaker to cross party lines, joining the Democrats in opposition.

But the effort stumbled on Thursday when Republicans acknowledged that Senate rules would not permit them to add a mechanism to trigger tax increases in coming years if the bill fails to boost the economy enough to generate sufficient revenues to pay for tax cuts.

Under the bill, the corporate tax rate would be permanently slashed to 20 percent from 35 percent, while future foreign profits of US-based firms would be largely exempted from tax - both changes pursued by corporate lobbyists for years.

On Saturday, Bishop Frank Dewane, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, said further analysis and recommendations from the bishops would be forthcoming, but "Congress must act now to fix the fundamental flaws found in both bills, and choose the policy approaches that help individuals and families struggling within our society".

Tester called the release of the final bill language and the short time frame "unbelievable".

Republicans pushed a almost $1.5 trillion tax bill through the Senate early Saturday after a burst of eleventh-hour horse trading, as a party starved all year for a major legislative triumph took a giant step toward giving President Donald Trump one of his top priorities by Christmas. "This is not a ideal bill, but it is one that would deliver much-needed reform to our tax code, grow the economy, and help Americans keep more of their hard-earned money".

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott a Republican defended the rushed process to pass the tax package
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott a Republican defended the rushed process to pass the tax package

Senate Republican leaders wrangled with the last few GOP holdouts Thursday as they pushed toward passing the first major rewrite of the nation's tax code in more than three decades, a package that would impact rich and the poor as well as businesses big and small. Pass-through income would still get taxed at individual tax rates, but those business owners would have the deduction.

"The Republican tax bill has made a mockery of the Democratic process", Schumer said.

On the individual side of the tax code, the top tax rate paid by the highest-income earners would be cut slightly. Trump administration officials and many Republicans have insisted the bill would pay for itself by stimulating the economy.

Early on Friday morning, Trump praised congressional Republicans' work and blamed Democrats for trying to derail the bill, tweeting: "The Bill is getting better and better". While the corporate cuts would be permanent, tax cuts for individuals would sunset in 2025 and taxes on some middle-class brackets would increase, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

The House bill does not include that ACA mandate repeal but would eliminate deductions for families on medical expenses and college loan interest. Republicans have cast passage of a tax overhaul as a political imperative to ensure they hold their House and Senate majorities in next year's midterm elections.

The bill would abolish the "Obamacare" requirement that most people buy health coverage or face tax penalties.

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