Republican Critics of Tax Bill Vote to Send Bill to Senate Floor

GOP Senate leaders are winning over Republican skeptics.

President Donald Trump arrives on Capitol Hill on Tuesday with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to discuss the Senate tax bill. Tom Williams/AP

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

On Tuesday, a Senate committee voted along party lines to send a $1.4 trillion tax cut to the Senate floor. Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), two of the tax bill’s top Republican critics, voted in favor of advancing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Tuesday’s vote by the budget committee clears a procedural hurdle by merging the tax bill with a plan to allow drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—a concession important to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Earlier on Tuesday, it was unclear whether Corker and Johnson would vote for the bill in committee. 

The support from both senators suggests that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) might be able to win over many skeptical Republicans. The Senate is expected to vote on their tax bill as soon as this week, and McConnell can afford to lose no more than two votes from his caucus.

In his opening remarks, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Democrats’ ranking member on the committee, called the Senate tax bill “disastrous and unfair.” Sanders added that he has “not the slightest doubt” that Republicans will quickly use the higher deficits created by the tax cut to slash funding for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

The hearing was frequently interrupted by activists shouting “Kill the bill. Don’t kill us.” The protesters—including at least one wheelchair user—were quickly removed by Capitol Police.    

Earlier on Tuesday, Corker touted a proposal to amend the Senate bill so that it raises taxes on individuals and businesses if it does not create as much growth as Republicans’ are promising. Corker says he has secured “an outline of an agreement” to clawback revenue, HuffPost reports. That could lead to additional tax increases for middle-class taxpayers a few years after the tax cuts go into effect, because virtually all economists believe the Republican bill will not pay for itself.

Johnson had previously said he was opposed to the Republican bill because he believes it does not provide a big enough tax cut to businesses, known as “pass throughs,” whose profits are taxed as individual income. Johnson has said President Donald Trump agrees with him, and Johnson is interested in keeping the tax bill moving forward. As Mother Jones has written, almost all of Trump’s roughly 500 businesses are pass-throughs, and Johnson’s brother is the registered agent for the family pass-through business that Johnson used to run.

After voting to send the bill to the floor, every Republican member—aside from Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wy.)—quickly left the hearing room as Democrats remained to speak out against the bill. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) highlighted their absence. He said they fled as if they were “running away from the scene of a crime.”

 

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.