GOP tax bill passes in House
Senate panel approves own legislation with repeal of ACA mandate ahead of full vote
“I think most people know how important it is to cut taxes and get the economy moving again, and this bill does that.” – House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La. “I didn’t come to Washington to raise taxes onmy constituents and I do not plan to start today.” – Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista
The House passed its version of the Republican tax overhaul Thursday, notching a key win for President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. But obstacles remain in the Senate, which is refining its own version of the legislation amid objections from key GOP senators.
The bill passed the House 227205. Thirteen Republicans voted against the bill. No Democrats voted for it.
The Republican- led Senate Finance Committee voted 1412 along party lines to approve their tax overhaul bill and send it to the full Senate for anticipated passage the week after next. The Senate version contains a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that everyone in the United State have health insurance.
Three California Republican members of Congress— Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Costa Mesa, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, and Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove — broke
ranks on Thursday to vote against the Republican tax reform bill that passed the House of Representatives.
They were among the 13 Republicans to vote against it, most fromother high-tax states such as New York and New Jersey.
The rest of California’s congressional delegation voted along party lines, with Democrats opposing the bill and the 11 other Republicans supporting it.
Those opposing the bill cited the elimination of a deduction that allowed taxpayers to write off state and local income tax they paid each year, as well as a cap on a property tax deduction.
Getting rid of the income tax deduction would especially hit Californians, who pay relatively high state taxes, they said.
More than 6 million Californians take advantage of the state and local tax deductions each year, deducting an average of $18,438 per family, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. And more than a third of the households in Rohrabacher, Issa and McClintock’s districts took the deductions in 2015, IRS data shows.
“I didn’t come to Washington to raise taxes on my constituents and I do not plan to start today,” Issa said in a statement. “It’s disappointing that the bill approved today will not provide the same tax relief to Californians as it does to the rest of the nation.”
The California Republicans backing the tax plan argued that as a whole it would reduce tax rates for individuals and businesses, spurring economic growth.
“Passage of the House bill is the first step toward significantly lowering the tax burden in the Central Valley,” Rep. Jeff Denham, RTurlock, said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the Senate to send a final bill to the president’s desk that will benefit valley families, create jobs and put more money in people’s pockets.”
Issa and Rohrabacher, whose districts voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, are seen as two of the most vulnerable incumbent members of Congress in the country in 2018. McClintock is in a fairly safe Republican district, but he was outraised by a Democratic challenger in the latest fundraising reports.
Trump and Republican leaders in Congress are aiming to pass a bill that would cut taxes by as much as $1.5 trillion by the end of the year.
Trump visited the Capitol shortly before the early- afternoon vote, speaking to Republican lawmakers behind closed doors to urge them to support the cornerstone of his economic agenda.
Trump’s parting words to Republicans, according to a person in the room who was not authorized to comment publicly: “I love you. Now go vote.”
Even before the vote, GOP leaders were confident that the pep talk wasn’t necessary. Fewer than a dozen of the 240 House Republicans said they were opposing the bill or had lodged strong objections, as of Wednesday morning. The GOP could have lost up to 22 votes and still passed the bill Thurs- day.
“There’s not a lot of minds to change in there,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla.
Cole said that Trump’s remarks were upbeat and packed with one-liners and that the president did not include the type of threats he delivered when he visited lawmakers ahead of a crucial health care vote.
Republican angst in the House — over the prospect of raising deficits by $1.5 trillion and delivering more benefits to corporations than people — is mirrored in the Senate, where the margin for success is razor thin and prospects for passage remain shaky. Several House members said they voted re- luctantly for their chamber’s bill Thursday.
Like the House bill, the Senate version makes corporate tax cuts in themeasure permanent, but phases out individual tax cuts by 2026, creating a political predicament for many lawmakers.
More ominously, the Senate version includes a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, a risky proposition for a chamber that in July failed to repeal the legislation when three Republicans voted against doing so. The GOP controls 52 Senate seats, and if the 46 Democrats and two independents continue to oppose repeal, as expected, the tax bill faces a rough time.
On Wednesday, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said the vote count was “looking real good” after weeks of working with individual members to explain the plan and address objections that ranged from the parochial to the fundamental.
“I think most people know how important it is to cut taxes and get the economy moving again, and this bill does that,” he said.
Expect this vote to be a key campaign issue in 2018. In addition to the state and local tax deductions, the bill will also eliminate popular deductions for student loans, medical expenses and educator expenses, and it lowers the cap on mortgage deductions.
“What a brilliant Republican strategy to lose the House in 2018,” said Kait Sweeney, a spokesperson for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal group. “Republicans are delusional if they think this vote won’t haunt them.”
The House bill delivers more than 80 percent of its overall cuts to corporations, business owners and wealthy families who are subject to the federal estate tax, according to estimates released by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s nonpartisan tax analyst. But most middle-class Americans would see an immediate tax cut because of a lowering of individual tax rates, the near- doubling of the standard deduction and a larger child tax credit.
But many households that itemize their deductions— taking advantage of write- offs for state income taxes, medical expenses, and more — could see immediate tax increases. In future years, the benefits of the bill for individuals wane because of the phaseout of a key tax credit and the use of a slower measure of inflation to recalibrate bracket levels.
Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, is greeted by applause from Rep. Paul Ryan during an event Thursday at the Capitol to celebrate the passing of the tax reform bill.
President Donald Trump, left, and Paul Ryan attended a pep rally with House Republicans on Thursday.