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- The Senate passed Republicans’ tax bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, just after midnight on Wednesday.
- The vote puts the bill on the edge of success, with only a technical vote in the House needed before it can be sent to President Donald Trump’s desk.
- The bill is set to make sweeping changes to the tax code for both businesses and households.
Senate Republicans passed their sweeping tax bill just after midnight on Wednesday, putting the GOP and President Donald Trump a hair’s breadth away from a signature legislative victory that has been missing from their first year in control of the federal government.
The bill passed by a 51-48 vote, with no senator crossing party lines. Sen. John McCain was not present for the vote while he recovers in Arizona from complications of treatment for brain cancer.
The passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in the Senate leaves a technical vote in House as the last remaining obstacle before the bill can be sent to Trump’s desk.
“After eight straight years of slow growth, America is ready to take off,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a press conference after the vote.
President Donald Trump also cheered the bill’s passage, and he laid out the timeline for a celebration on Wednesday.
“The United States Senate just passed the biggest in history Tax Cut and Reform Bill. Terrible Individual Mandate (ObamaCare)Repealed,” Trump tweeted. “Goes to the House tomorrow morning for final vote. If approved, there will be a News Conference at The White House at approximately 1:00 P.M.”
Senate rules forced three minor provisions to be stripped from the bill after it passed the House on Tuesday. The House will now need to vote on the revised version of the bill.
Since the bill passed the House by a comfortable margin, the vote on Wednesday is considered a formality.
On the business side, the biggest change is the lowering of the federal corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%. A series of new rules would make it easier to deduct new investments and cheaper to bring back assets held overseas and would carve out exemptions for individual industries like craft brewers.
On the individual side, the bill would keep the same number of tax brackets but lower the rates on different income levels. According to analyses, this would result in the bulk of Americans – roughly 80% – getting a tax cut next year, while a handful of people would see their taxes increase.
But unlike the corporate tax cuts, the individual tax cuts would expire after 2025. Republicans say a future Congress will extend these cuts, but given the level of disagreement in Washington, critics argue that is not guaranteed.
Overall, the bill is expected to provide a modest boost to the US economy but less than grandiose promises from Republican leaders.
The new economic growth is expected to fuel more tax revenue. But all independent analyses have estimated that the final version of the bill will add $448 billion to over $1 trillion to the federal deficit over 10 years, rejecting GOP claims that the legislation would pay for itself.
Members of each party quickly put their spin on the bill’s passage.
Republicans used the opportunity to tout what they say will be the positive effects for average people and the US economy.
“For years, Republicans and Democrats alike have called for middle-class tax cuts and a more competitive tax code for American workers and businesses, and today Republicans are delivering on that promise,” GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio said in a statement. “This bill will cut taxes for middle-class families, reform our business tax code to create more jobs and higher wages for Ohio workers, and update our international tax code to encourage jobs and investments in America.”
On the opposing side, Democrats decried the bill as a handout to the rich and large corporations.
“This bill will exacerbate inequality, not ameliorate it,” Democratic Sen. Cory Booker said in a statement. “It’s irresponsible, reckless, unjust, and just plain cruel – and for these reasons and more, today is one of my most disappointing days as a US senator. I look forward to the day – and it will come – that we reverse this devastating piece of legislation and bring real tax reform that truly helps working families and small businesses across the country.”