House approves US tax bill as Trump moves closer to first big legislative win - Global Times


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Tuesday, 19 December 2017

House approves US tax bill as Trump moves closer to first big legislative win

 Donald Trump has heralded the bill, but a CNN poll released early Tuesday found 55% of voters viewed the reform package unfavorably. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters

  • Mitch McConnell says Senate will vote on tax bill Tuesday evening
  • Trump says reform package represents ‘big, beautiful Christmas present’

House Republicans approved the most sweeping rewrite of the US tax code in a generation, sending the measure to the Senate, where it is expected to pass later Tuesday.

Passage of the bill, which contains $1.5tn in tax cuts, will mark the first major legislative success for Trump since taking office.

It would lower the top rate on families and individuals to 37% and the top rate on corporations to 21%.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, said the Senate would vote on the tax package on Tuesday evening, sending the bill to Trump in time to deliver what he has promised would be a “big, beautiful Christmas present” for the nation.
Republicans have long pushed tax reform as a way to simplify the US tax code, but the proposal would keep all seven existing tax brackets for individuals. The bill has faced significant criticism because it would limit tax deductions for home mortgages and state and local taxes, as well as adding over a trillion dollars to the budget deficit.

The bill would not only reshape tax policy in the United States. It also contains provisions to allow oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic national wildlife refuge, and would eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which requires Americans to either buy health insurance or pay a penalty.

The bill passed 227 to 203, with 12 Republicans voting against.

Despite being heralded by Republicans and the White House as a major accomplishment, the bill is deeply unpopular. A CNN poll released earlier Tuesday found that 55% of voters had a unfavorable view of the plan and only 33% view it favorably.

House speaker Paul Ryan dismissed criticism of the bill, saying “results are what’s going to make this popular”.
He said at the weekly Republican leadership press conference on Tuesday morning: “When we get this done, when people see their withholding [estimated tax] improving, when they see jobs occurring, when they see bigger paychecks, a fairer tax system, a simpler tax code, that’s what’s going to produce the results.”

Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress but have so far failed to achieve a major legislative victory, relished the moment hours before the vote was scheduled on Tuesday.

“Did you ever believe we would be here on this day?” House majority leader Kevin McCarthy asked, grinning.
The vote was marred by repeated interruptions from protesters in the gallery. As protesters shouted slogans like “Kill the bill,” Democratic lawmakers cheered, and at least one Republican shouted back: “Throw her ass out.”

After final passage, Ryan loudly gaveled the vote to a close while receiving a standing ovation from House Republicans. Ryan has long pushed for cutting taxes and reforming the tax code and the vote Tuesday was seen as a defining achievement for him.
Democrats were excluded from the closed-door sessions where the plan was crafted. They have condemned the measure a handout to the wealthy and corporations, and promised to use it as a cudgel against Republicans in the 2018 midterms.

Congress, meanwhile, is running up against a Friday deadline to fund the federal government. A sticking point over funding Obamacare payments – a promise made to secure Maine senator Susan Collins’ vote on tax reform – risks a potential revolt by House conservatives and a possible government shutdown.

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