Senate Republicans got a big win last night when the final version of their tax reform bill passed, 51-49. The vote was largely along party lines: only one Republican, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), voted against it, and no Democrat voted in favor.
You can see how your Senators voted here.
The voting wasn’t technically finished on Friday night – it was early Saturday morning: December 2, 2017, at 1:36 a.m.
The final text of the bill was not immediately available. That’s because the bill, as submitted, went through several changes and amendments: those were added by hand in the margins. Democratic Senators complained those additions made the bill unreadable, with Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), tweeting:
Any handwriting experts out there? I’d like to know what this says before they call for a vote. This is absurd.
I obtained a copy of the bill (still in progress) last night several hours before the vote and can confirm that there were handwritten notes and cross-outs. In the copy that I obtained, a proposal to allow a charitable contribution for tuition paid to religious schools were crossed out with a handwritten X, and additional notes were added to the proposal to increase the child tax credit:
That version of the bill was 479 pages long.
Sen. Corker was the lone Republican who voted against the bill, reportedly due to concerns that the plan will increase the deficit. The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) posted the cost of the bill, called “Estimated Revenue Effects Of Modifications To The “Tax Cuts And Jobs Act,” As Reported By The Committee On Finance” early this morning. The total cost over 10 years? A net increase to the deficit of $1,447.8 trillion.(You can download their report directly from the site here.)
To combat concerns that the economy wouldn’t grow fast enough to offset deficit increases, Sen. Corker proposed a trigger that would reverse the tax cuts after a period of time. However, that amendment was not included in the final vote, causing some moments of drama on the Senate floor.
What was included? You can read my summary of the proposal before the additional mark-ups here. After the vote, it appears that most of those original provisions stayed largely intact. Here are some highlights:
- Under the Senate version, the corporate tax rate would be permanently lowered from 35% to 20%.
- The Senate version would also lower tax rates for individuals but those lower rates will not be permanent (they will expire after 2025).
- The Senate bill retains the same number of individual tax brackets as we currently have (seven) though the brackets look different (the House version of the bill proposed just four).
- The individual mandate under Obamacare would be repealed under the Senate version (the House version did not include a repeal of the mandate).
- The Senate bill increases the child tax credit to $2,000 (the House version would increase the credit to $1,600). Both versions would be subject to income phaseouts.
- State and local property tax deductions would remain under the Senate and House proposals but would be capped at $10,000. State and local income tax deductions would be eliminated.
- A last minute change introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) passed after a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Pence, expanding education savings accounts (ESAs) to include expenses related to religious schools and home-schooled students (the House version has a similar provision).
The version of the bill as passed by the Senate must now be reconciled with the version of tax reform as passed by the House. You can read how their initial versions differed here. Republicans in Congress hope to deliver a final bill to President Trump before Christmas.