Live: Now It’s 51 Votes for the GOP Tax Cut Bill! Bob Corker is the Only GOP No Vote

The US flag flies at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 20, 2009. Millions of people are expected to be in the US capital to witness the swearing of Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

The Senate is making last minute changes to the tax overhaul bill after failing to get it across the line Thursday night. We’ll keep you in the know with the latest developments.

    • I Don’t Trust Nobody and Nobody Trusts Me. Senator Bob Corker is officially a no. That’s unsurprising. Many of his Senate colleagues soured on the idea of making major changes to the tax bill to satisfy him last night. His late Friday announcement, however, shows some party loyalty. He waited until the bill had enough votes to certainly pass, which prevented any “momentum” building against the bill.
    • In the Nick of Time!  Collins has been moving toward formally supporting the tax bill all day. Now it’s official.  Collins office has released a statement saying she will support The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  “We need a tax system that will boost the economy, help the middle class, and encourage small business to grow and create jobs,” Collins said. “If we stimulate the economy through tax reform, we can significantly increase federal revenue while boosting Americans’ take-home pay.” Collins statement also touted the value of doubling the child tax credit to “lower- and-middle-income taxpayers.” For those of you keeping score at home, that’s fifty-one GOP votes for the bill. Corker is still the holdout. And, of course, every single Democratic Senator.
    • Locked Me Out! Senate Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri, has tweeted what she describes as a list of amendments to the tax bill. She complained that they were shared with her by “lobbyists downtown” rather than Republican Senate “colleagues.” It is easy to see how, with no Democrats planning to vote for the bill under any circumstances, keeping Democrats informed about amendments might not be a top priority for Republican leaders.
  • But Not for Me, Not for Me. So what was the gimmick that Flake wanted changed? Apparently, it was the sunset of provisions allowing immediate expensing of capital investments after five years. Now this will be phased out over time rather than ended all at once. That seems like an odd change as many economists say the boost to the economy from immediate expensing largely depends on it ending, which pushes forward corporate investments. Why stepping it down instead is less of a gimmick or more desriable as an economic booster is a mystery to us.
  • Another Day, Another Drama. More details on the AMT revival, this time from Bloomberg and CNBC. Bloomberg reports that Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota says that the revised version would include an individual AMT. But CNBC reports that the bill will also include a corporate AMT, as well.  According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the full repeal of the AMT would cost $769 billion over the next 10 years. It’s not clear how much revenue would be restored by reviving a modified version.
  • I Do It All the Time! The Senator from Maine–who still has not said if she will vote for the bill–has tweeted out two more changes.
  • I Rose Up From the Dead! One of the most widely criticized and complicating parts of the current tax code, the Alternative Minimum Tax, won’t be repealed in the Senate plan, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal’s Richard Rubin. The report credits it to a “GOP aide.”  The change would increase the threshold, according to Rubin. It’s not clear, however, whether that threshold would be indexed to inflation. It was the failure to index the AMT in the first place that led it to metastasize from a minimum tax on the very rich into a provision that complicated taxes for many upper-middle class taxpayers.
  • All I Think About Is. Still some moving parts. Joseph Lawler of the Washington Examiner reports (via twitter) that Senators Rubio and Lee still want to expand child tax credit to lower-income families in tax bill and “are open to offsets besides higher corp rate.”
  • You Asked Me For A Place to Sleep. A follow-up tweet from Collins noting her delight and the benefit of the bill for the people of Maine.  Now it really sounds like she will be the fifty-first vote, enabling Republicans to pass the tax bill without calling upon the Vice President to break a tie.
  • They Once Belonged To Me. Collins looks like she’s a yes too, although it is not confirmed. She tweeted out that the Senate bill will include a deduction of up to $10,000 for state and local property taxes, her last remaining issue with the bill.
  • I Don’t Like Your Kingdom Keys. Flake moves to the yes column. By our count, his is the fiftieth vote for the bill. His official statement:

“For nearly two decades I have advocated for a lower corporate tax rate that will enable U.S. business to compete globally and reforms that will deliver a fairer, simpler tax code.

“From the outset of the current debate on tax reform, my goal has been to ensure that Congress passes a tax reform package that is both fiscally-responsible and promotes economic growth. During the debate over the current bill, I’ve focused on two specific objectives. The first was to eliminate the $85 billion expensing budget gimmick in the bill. The second was to obtain a firm commitment from the Senate Leadership and the administration to work with me on a growth-oriented legislative solution to enact fair and permanent protections for DACA recipients.

“Having secured both of those objectives, I am pleased to announce I will vote in support the tax reform bill.”

  • I’ll Be the Actress, Starring in Your… While Collins has not yet officially said she will vote for the bill, she sounds very optimistic. “We’re doing very well,” she said to reporters.
  • Oh! Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stepped down onto the floor of the Senate and said Republicans “have the votes.”
  • I Check It Once, I Check It Twice! There have been a lot of discussions about how to reduce the forecasted deficit that may be created by tax cuts. At one point, Republicans were considering sunsetting some of the corporate tax cuts, making them officially temporary much like some of the individual tax cuts. But this raised concerns that it could stifle potential economic growth by creating too much uncertainty. Right now the bill would permanently cut the corporate tax to 20 percent but delay the rate reduction by one year, so it would take effect in 2019.
  • The Role You Made Me Play. The role of Flake and Corker in the tax overhaul is causing consternation among fellow Republican Senators. Both Flake and Corker have said they are not running for office, making them immune to political fallout if the tax bill fails to pass. Senators who are not giving up their seats began to balk last night at “the huge influence guys who aren’t answerable to voters” were having on the process, according to one senior Republican staffer.
  • I Don’t Like Your Little Games. Until late last night, it appeared that Flake and Corker had found a way to vote for the bill. They had planned to include in the bill a “fiscal trigger” that would raise taxes if economic growth fell short of forecasts or budget deficits exceeded expectations. That idea was widely criticized as impractical and perhaps dangerous, since it risked raising taxes amid an economic downturn. It died Thursday night when the Senate parliamentarian said it could not be passed by a simple majority. That unexpected turn cast into doubt the support of Corker and Flake, prompting Senate leaders to call off plans to vote Thursday night.
  • And Yours is in Red Underlined. The Senate Majority whip, John Cornyn, says he has the votes to pass the bill. His job is to count and marshal votes for Republican measures.
  • I’ve Got A List of Names. So where does the vote count stand? As of Thursday morning, the possible GOP holdouts included John McCain of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine, Steve Daines of Montana, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Bob Corker of Tennessee, and Jeff Flake of Arizona. That left the GOP, which has a 52 seat majority in the Senate, possibly 4 votes short of passing the bill. McCain said he would vote for the bill Thursday evening. Daines and Johnson signed on Friday morning. Corker and Flake are likely still no votes as their concerns about the budget deficits projected to be created by the tax cuts have not been resolved. Collins said on Friday morning that she has not decided. By our math, that leaves the GOP 1 vote short of 50.
  • And Then The World Moves On. The trade-off for the higher pass-through deduction will be a higher rate on repatriated foreign profits, CNBC reports.
  • I Rose Up From the Dead. The Senate returned to consider the tax bill at 10 a.m. on Friday. Senate Republican leaders are confident they have enough votes to pass the measure but are making adjustments in hopes of winning all 52 GOP votes.
  • I Got Harder. The Wall Street Journal reports that an aide to Ron Johnson of Wisconsin says he is now a yes vote.
  • But I Got Smarter. Senator Steve Daines announced his support for the bill early Friday morning. The pass-through deduction, a major concern for Senators Daines and Ron Johnson, has  been moved to 23 percent from 17.4 percent, according to CNBC.


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