The Republican margin for passing a $1.5 trillion tax cut through the Senate got even tighter as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told party leaders his vote depends on a provision to extend the child tax credit to more low income families.
Rubio voted for the bill when it passed the Senate 51-49, but wants leaders to make an expanded child tax credit more refundable so it could benefit working families who could count it against their payroll taxes.
Party leaders have so far rejected that proposal, instead using funds gleaned by inching the still-slashed corporate tax rate to 21 percent and using funds to lower the top income tax bracket.
The new drama came as President Trump predicted victory ‘in a short period of time’ and said the tax cut ‘will be the greatest Christmas present that a lot of people have ever received.’
Rubio told party leaders he intends to vote against the bill unless it includes his preferred version of the expanded credit, the Washington Post reported.
A spokesman was more nuanced, telling the Hill newspaper his vote depended on it being rufundable ‘in a meaningful way.’
Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio has told leadership that his vote ‘would depend on whether the refundability of the Child Tax Credit was increased in a meaningful way
‘Sen. Rubio has consistently communicated to the Senate tax negotiators that his vote on final passage would depend on whether the refundability of the Child Tax Credit was increased in a meaningful way,’ the Rubio spokesman says.
President Trump, asked about the tax cut at an event on cutting regulations, said: ‘It’ll be the largest tax cut in the history of our country. And I will say the Republican senators and congressmen and women have been incredible.’
The president added: ‘So I think we will get there. It’ll be in a very short period of time. It will be the greatest Christmas present that a lot of people have ever received. It’ll be something special.’
The $1.5 trillion tax cut is also smaller than cuts passed under Reagan, Johnson, and Obama as a share of the economy, Washington Post fact-checkers have noted.
If Republicans were to lose Rubio – who Trump once mocked as ‘little Marco’ – as well as Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker – who voted against the first version and who Trump also previously mocked as ‘liddle’ – they would have just 50 votes for the tax cut that is the centerpiece of the party’s legislative agenda.
Vice President Mike Pence is delaying his trip to the Middle East as Republican leaders try to nail down final majority support for the tax cut.
Pence’s presence ensures they can still get it through the chamber with just 50 votes, with Pence breaking the tie.
‘Yesterday the White House informed Senate Leadership that due to the historic nature of the vote in the Senate on tax cuts for millions of Americans, the VP would stay to preside over the vote,’ said Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah in a statement.
Vice President Mike Pence is delaying his trip to the Middle East to stay in Washington for the tax cut vote
‘The vice president will then travel to Egypt and Israel, where he’ll reaffirm the United States commitment to its allies in the Middle East and to working cooperatively to defeat radicalism,’ she said.
‘He looks forward to having constructive conversations with both [Israeli] Prime Minister Netanyahu and [Egyptian] President el-Sisi to reaffirm President Trump’s commitment to our partners in the region and to its future,’ she added.
President Trump has said repeatedly he wants to get a tax cut by Christmas. Conferees negotiating a final bill say there is a deal, but final details are still being worked out.
Final legislative language might not be released until Monday, when leadership had hoped to schedule a vote.
Some Republicans who voted for the initial Senate version are still pushing for changes and confirming that their demands are included in the final deal.
Arizona Sen. John McCain has been admitted to the Walter Reed Naval hospital as he recovers from side affects associated with his treatment for brain cancer.
McCain’s dramatic thumbs down helped kill the GOP’s effort to repeal much of Obamacare.
‘Senator McCain is currently receiving treatment at Walter Reed Medical Center for normal side effects of his ongoing cancer therapy,’ sad his office in a statement. ‘As ever, he remains grateful to his physicians for their excellent care, and his friends and supporters for their encouragement and good wishes.’
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine says she got assurances from leaders and Trump of support to stabilize Obamacare insurance markets and prevent automatic Medicare cuts, but is still getting pressure from constituents opposed to the bill.
Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker voted against the bill earlier this month after raising concerns about the $1 trillion it would add to the nation’s debt.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said he would cause ‘problems’ for the tax cut if he didn’t get his provision to expand the child tax credit to working families
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) got concessions to vote for the initial Senate version of the bill
Other senators raising concerns are Jeff Flake of Arizona, who is retiring, and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who wants to make the child tax credit refundable and therefore more beneficial to lower-income taxpayers.
He had threatened to cause ‘problems’ for the bill if his ideas weren’t included, but it is unclear if he will follow through if leaders reject his proposal, as it appears they have done.
Leaders embraced Rubio’s proposal to lower the corporate tax rate to 21 per cent rather than 20 percent. But instead of his idea of expanding the child tax credit, they used it to lower the top tax bracket from 39.6 to 37 per cent.
‘If you make $40,000, we can’t find the money to increase the child tax credit, but if you make a million a year we can?’ he said Wednesday.