The loss of the Senate seat that once belonged to Attorney General Jeff Sessions will not stop Republican tax reform efforts. To the contrary, those efforts will likely be accelerated.
Democrat winner Doug Jones will most likley not take office until January, narrowing the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate to 51 seats. Alabama’s secretary of state has said it will take at least until December 27 to certify the election results. That gives the Republicans just a few weeks to pass their tax overhaul and get it on the president’s desk.
Prior to the loss in Alabama, Republican leaders on Capitol Hill had said that they hoped to meet the president’s ambitious goal of having a bill ready to sign by Christmas. But if Republicans had held the seat in Alabama, there would have been no particularly dire consequences to allowing tax reform to slip into the new year.
Now Republican lawmakers are likely to approach tax reform with a new sense of urgency, eager to avoid the catastrophic failure of their efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare due to a few wayward Republican Senators.
Republicans appear to be making progress in their efforts to reconcile the differences between the bills passed by the House and Senate. Reportedly, the new bill will include a corporate rate of 21 percent, up from the 20 percent in the earlier bills. As well, the cap on the mortgage interest deduction will be set at $750,000, midway between the $1 million cap in the Senate bill and the $500,000 cap in the House bill. The top rate on individuals will reportedly be set at 37 percent, a deeper tax cut than in the earlier bills.