Repub­li­cans shove tax bill ahead as Democrats fume

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS - WASH­ING­TON -AFP

US Se­nate Repub­li­cans rammed for­ward Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump's tax-cut bill in an abrupt, par­ti­san com­mit­tee vote that set up a full vote by the Se­nate as soon as Thurs­day, although some de­tails of the mea­sure re­mained un­set­tled.

As dis­abled protesters shouted: "Kill the bill, don't kill us," in a Capi­tol Hill hear­ing room, the Se­nate Bud­get Com­mit­tee, with no dis­cus­sion, quickly ap­proved the leg­is­la­tion on a 12-11 party­line vote that left Democrats fum­ing.

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 U.S. tax code and add an es­ti­mated

$1.4 tril­lion to the $20 tril­lion na­tional debt over 10 years.

After the vote, Trump told re­porters: "I think we're go­ing to get it passed," ad­ding that it would have some ad­just­ments. Repub­li­cans are hur­ry­ing to move their com­plex tax leg­is­la­tion for­ward, hop­ing to avoid the pro­tracted in­fight­ing that doomed their ef­fort to re­peal Oba­macare four months ago.

Since Trump took of­fice in Jan­uary, he and fel­low Repub­li­cans in com­mand of both cham­bers of Congress have ap­proved no ma­jor leg­is­la­tion, a fact they want to change be­fore fac­ing vot­ers in the 2018 con­gres­sional elec­tions.

If the Se­nate ap­proves its tax mea­sure later this week, it would need to be rec­on­ciled with a ver­sion al­ready ap­proved by the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives be­fore any­thing could be sent to the White House for Trump to sign into law.

Repub­li­can lead­ers con­ceded that they had yet to round up the votes needed for pas­sage in the Se­nate, where they hold a nar­row 52-48 ma­jor­ity. "It's a chal­leng­ing ex­er­cise," Se­nate Repub­li­can leader Mitch McCon­nell said at a news con­fer­ence.

Democrats have called the Repub­li­can tax plan a give­away to cor­po­ra­tions and the rich. The Se­nate bill would slash the cor­po­rate tax rate to 20 per­cent from 35 per­cent after a one-year de­lay. It would im­pose a one­time, cut-rate tax on cor­po­ra­tions' for­eign prof­its, while ex­empt­ing fu­ture for­eign prof­its from U.S. tax­a­tion.

Tax rates for many in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies would also be cut tem­po­rar­ily be­fore ris­ing back to their pre­vi­ous lev­els in 2025. Key tax breaks would also be curbed or elim­i­nated, mak­ing the bill a mixed bag for some mid­dle-class fam­i­lies. Some taxes paid by wealthy Amer­i­cans would be re­pealed.

Wall Street moved higher on the news that the bill would move to a full Se­nate vote, with the bench­mark S&P 500 .SPX in­dex clos­ing up a lit­tle over 1 per­cent.

As writ­ten, the bill would widen the U.S. bud­get deficit by an es­ti­mated $1.4 tril­lion over 10 years. Repub­li­cans main­tain that gap would be nar­rowed by ad­di­tional eco­nomic growth. Se­na­tor Bob Corker, one of few re­main­ing Repub­li­can fis­cal hawks in Congress, said he worked out a deal sat­is­fy­ing his con­cerns that the tax cuts add too much to the na­tional debt.

He said the bill would be mod­i­fied to au­to­mat­i­cally raise tax rev­enues if growth tar­gets were not reached. "We got a com- mit­ment that puts us in a pretty good place," he said.

Although de­tails were not im­me­di­ately avail­able, Corker said he ex­pected more in­for­ma­tion to come out on Thurs­day as part of the bill.

The con­ces­sion im­me­di­ately drew a de­trac­tor as Repub­li­can Se­na­tor John Kennedy told re­porters he "would rather drink weed killer than vote for the thing," ad­ding: "I don't like vot­ing for au­to­matic tax in­creases."

The Corker con­ces­sion was one of sev­eral lin­ger­ing un­cer­tain­ties in the bill that Se­nate aides said would be nailed down as the mea­sure neared a floor vote.

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