© 2023 Louisville Public Media

Public Files:
89.3 WFPL · 90.5 WUOL-FM · 91.9 WFPK

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact info@lpm.org or call 502-814-6500
89.3 WFPL News | 90.5 WUOL Classical 91.9 WFPK Music | KyCIR Investigations
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Stream: News Music Classical

McConnell On Tax Bill: 'We Have The Votes'

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Updated at 1:35 p.m. ET

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Friday that he believes Republicans now have enough votes to pass their tax bill, and they plan to do so later in the day. This comes after a closed-door meeting at which Senate Republicans discussed final changes to their bill.

"We have the votes," McConnell declared to reporters, as he exited the meeting, which lasted roughly an hour and a half. 90 minutes and told reporters as he strode down the hallway between his office and the Senate chamber.

The sudden certainty marks a dramatic shift after it appeared the fate of the bill was in doubt over concerns that steep tax cuts could add trillions to the deficit over time.

Following the meeting, a number of high-profile holdouts on the legislation said they expected a new version of the bill would satisfy a wide range of GOP demands.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, once one of the firm holdout on concerns over the deficit, tweeted he would support the bill after getting assurances from the White House and Senate GOP leaders that they would work on legislation related to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which President Trump ordered to be rescinded earlier this year.

Main Republican Susan Collins also announced that the new bill will include her request to allow tax payers to write off up to $10,000 in property taxes paid to state and local governments.

Senate Republicans plan to leave the cut in the corporate tax rate as it stands at 20 percent. They will drop the pass-through rate, used by businesses that pay taxes on the individual side of the tax code, to 23 percent, versus the 25 percent originally planned, according to Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. A new version of the bill will also include more generous rules for businesses that decide to begin filing as corporations as a result of tax overhaul.

Johnson was one of two holdouts who demanded increased benefits for small businesses in exchange for their support. Johnson and Montana Sen. Steve Daines, both former small business owners themselves, said they now plan to vote for the tax legislation.

Johnson said those changes, in addition to a promise that he will have a say in the process of combining the House and Senate tax bills, won his support.

"What I expect is I will have a seat at the table," Johnson said. "I'm not anticipating offering any amendments."

To help pay for the pass-through cut, they plan to increase the proposed tax rate on corporate profits that are earned overseas and brought back into the U.S.. The new level in the Senate bill will match the level in the House bill passed before Thanksgiving.

The bill is projected to add $1.4 trillion to the deficit over 10 years. The Joint Committee on Taxation reported on Thursday that the economic stimulus from the bill would only make up $400 billion of that.

That figure has raised concerns with some Republicans, including Flake and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, who wanted the legislation to include a trigger mechanism that would force tax increases or spending cuts if the overhaul failed to grow the economy.

That idea was rejected Thursday after the Senate Parliamentarian told lawmakers it would likely violate complex Senate budget rules. Corker has not yet said if he will support the bill but a number of other GOP lawmakers say they believe the JCT figure underestimates the positive impact of the tax bill.

"This bill will end up reducing the deficit because there will be economic growth," said Ohio Sen. Rob Portman. "I feel very good about the fiscal situation."

If the Senate passes its bill, senators will go into conference with House members next week to work out differences in the two bills. If they can come to an agreement, both chambers would have to pass the version worked out in conference before it could go to Trump to be signed into law.

This story will be updated.

Watch The Senate Floor Proceedings

Jonese Franklin

Can we count on your support?

Louisville Public Media depends on donations from members – readers like you – for the majority of our funding. You can help make the next story possible with a donation of $10 or $20. We'll put your gift to work providing news and music for our diverse community.