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US Senate passes Republican tax bill after marathon voting session

Saturday - 02/12/2017 08:05
THE Senate has passed the most sweeping tax rewrite in decades, with Republicans lining up to approve an overhaul that will touch almost every corner of the US.
The Senate has voted to pass an expansive tax reform bill. Picture: AP.Source:AP
The Senate has voted to pass an expansive tax reform bill. Picture: AP.Source:AP

THE US Senate has narrowly voted to pass an expansive $US1.4 trillion ($1.8 trillion) tax reform bill.

The 51-49 vote on the nearly 500-page bill took place shortly before 2am local time after Democrats attempted a last-ditch amendment to stall the vote until Monday in order to read the bill.

Republican members broke out in enthusiastic applause as Vice President Mike Pence pounded the gavel and announce the bill’s passage.

Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee was the lone Republican to cross party lines, joining all 48 Democrats in voting against it, reports the New York Post. 

Sen. Bob Corker talks with reporters in between votes. Picture: AFP.
Sen. Bob Corker talks with reporters in between votes. Picture: AFP.Source:AFP

The bill would lower the corporate rate to 20 percent from 35 percent, reshape international business tax rules and temporarily lower individual taxes. It also touched other Republican goals, including opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling and repealing the mandate that individuals purchase health insurance, which would punch a sizable hole in the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Senate Democrats decried that the vote was even taking place in the middle of night.

“Millions of Americans must be watching in stunned disbelief tonight as the Republican Senate betrays the middle class for the benefit of faceless multinational corporations,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said on the Seante floor. “What is happening tonight is the worst of the United States Senate.”

Republicans used a burst of eleventh-hour horsetrading to pass the tax overhaul.

The Senate and House will now negotiate a final version to reconcile differences in their bills.

Republicans took a big step toward giving President Trump a major legislative achievement in his first year.

Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell. Picture: AFP.
Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell. Picture: AFP.Source:AFP

On Friday, Senate Republicans made a last-minute scramble to tweak the bill to placate GOP holdouts.

The original Senate bill had completely eliminated all state and local taxes as deductions on federal returns — including the property tax.

Other changes aimed at winning votes included: maintaining the alternative minimum tax for corporations; increasing the pass-through deduction for small businesses from 17.4 to 23 per cent and boosting the repatriation rate for corporate cash stashed offshore.

Both Sens. Steve Daines of Montana and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said the larger break for small businesses swayed them to become supporters.

Donald Trump's tax reform plan has overcome pockets of resistance within Republican ranks. Picture: AFP.
Donald Trump's tax reform plan has overcome pockets of resistance within Republican ranks. Picture: AFP.Source:AFP

“I sought assurance and I was given assurance that I will be at the table” when Senate-House bargainers write a compromise version of the bill, Johnson said about talks that he has had with GOP leaders.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake said he was voting for the bill after being promised a voice in determining the fate of Dreamers, young illegal immigrants who had been protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Corker, who will not seek re-election after his current term, said he couldn’t vote for a measure that increased the nation’s debt.

On Friday, the Tax Policy Center said its study showed an even higher deficit — $1.2 trillion over a decade.

This article was first published in the New York Post .

 Key: US Senate

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