Republicans muscled the most sweeping rewrite of the nation’s tax laws in more than three decades through the House on Tuesday.
House Speaker Paul Ryan dismissed criticism of the widely unpopular package and insisted ‘results are what’s going to make this popular’.
The vote, largely along party lines, was 227-203 and capped a GOP sprint to deliver a major legislative accomplishment to President Donald Trump after a year of congressional stumbles and non-starters.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Senate would vote on Tuesday evening, sending the legislation to Trump for his signature.
The massive $1.5 trillion package would touch every American taxpayer and every corner of the US economy, providing steep tax cuts for businesses and the wealthy, and more modest tax cuts for middle and low-income families. It would push the national debt ever higher.
The standard deduction used by most families would be nearly doubled, to $24,000 for a married couple, while those who itemize would lose some deductions.
‘We’re delivering a tax code that provides more jobs, fairer taxes and bigger paychecks to Americans across the country,’ said Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, Republican chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. ‘Our local job creators will see the lowest rates in modern history so they can invest more in their workers and in their future.’
Democrats called the bill a giveaway to corporations and the wealthy, providing little if any tax help to the less-than-well-to-do and no likelihood that business owners will use their gains to hire more workers or raise wages.
And the Republicans’ contention that the bill will make taxes so simple that millions can file ‘on a postcard — an idea repeated often by the president — was simply mocked.
‘What happened to the postcard? We’re going to have to carry around a billboard for tax simplification,’ declared Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee.
Tax cuts for corporations would be permanent while the cuts for individuals would expire in 2026 in order to comply with Senate budget rules. The tax cuts would take effect in January. Workers would start to see changes in the amount of taxes withheld from their paychecks in February.
During debate, decorum on the House floor was fleeting as two New Yorkers — a Democrat and a Republican — voiced their opinions on the bill. Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., yelled, ‘hell no’ in opposition to the bill. Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., replied, ‘hell yes!’ The proceedings were interrupted several times by protesters shouting from the gallery.
The bill is unpopular among the public, and Democrats plan to campaign against it in next year’s congressional elections. Senate Democrats posted poll numbers on the bill on a video screen at their Tuesday luncheon.
‘This bill will come back to haunt them, as Frankenstein did,’ said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.
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