The House on Wednesday approved a massive Republican plan to overhaul the tax code, clearing the bill’s final hurdle in Congress and sending it to President Donald Trump to be signed into law.
The House vote comes after the Senate approved an identical measure early Wednesday morning. In a 51 to 48 vote, Democrats unanimously opposed the bill while all Republicans present supported it. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., supports the plan but was unable to attend the vote as he is being treated for brain cancer.
The plan would permanently drop the corporate tax from 35 percent to 21 percent, while also rewriting the individual tax rules to lower rates and restructure deductions. The plan would cut taxes in 2018 for the vast majority of households, with by far the largest benefits going to the wealthy. Many of the tax breaks are set to expire at the end of 2025, leaving a large section of the middle class to pay more in taxes. But Republicans promise a future Congress will intervene to prevent that tax hike from happening.
Congressional Republicans plan to go to the White House to celebrate the bill’s passage Wednesday afternoon. Trump pushed Republicans to send him a tax overhaul by Christmas, and he touted the measure Wednesday.
“This bill means more take-home pay,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “It will be an incredible Christmas gift for hardworking Americans.”
Trump may wait until January to sign the tax bill into law, according to Gary Cohn, director of Trump’s National Economic Council.
Waiting until January could help the White House avoid triggering a 2010 law known as “PAYGO,” or “pay-as-you-go.” The budget law requires spending cuts to Medicare and other programs if legislation is approved that’s projected to add to the deficit.
If Trump signed the tax bill into law before Congress adjourns in December, lawmakers could be forced to vote on the PAYGO waiver measure as soon as next month in order to avoid allowing the spending cuts to kick in. The reductions would cut spending on Medicare by $25 billion in 2018, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Signing the tax bill into law in January would likely defer those spending cuts until 2019, giving Congress almost a year to come up with a solution.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Damian Paletta, Jeff Stein