With only three days left for Congress to finish its work for the year, including passing a budget bill to keep the government open, Republican leaders rushed through their final version of the Trump Tax Plan. Despite the bill’s growing unpopularity, the House approved it on another mostly party-line vote of 227-203. That division materialized again among Nevada’s Members of Congress, as Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City) broke with the rest of the state’s delegation to vote for the tax bill.
What made the final cut?
In October, Rep. Mark Amodei told the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) promised the tax plan’s passage by Thanksgiving. That proved true in the House, but Senate Republicans needed more time to wrangle enough votes to pass something on their side of the Capitol. Once the Senate passed its bill on December 2, Republicans rushed it into conference.
The final bill that emerged from conference omitted some of the most controversial elements of the House bill, such as repealing deductions for medical expenses, educators who must buy their own school supplies, and student loan interest. However, the core of the bill was largely left intact. The corporate rate cut was pared back slightly, but it’s still dropping from 35% to 21% beginning next year, and the bill includes an even lower rate for U.S. taxes that multinational corporations must pay on foreign profits. State and local tax deductions (SALT) are still capped at $10,000 for just property taxes.
Most importantly, the overall tax package continues to prioritize tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Now that the top personal income rate is dropping from 39% to 37%, the top 1% of income earners receive 82.8% of this bill’s benefits according to analysis from the Tax Policy Center. And even though the personal income tax provisions of this bill expire in 2025, the corporate tax provisions will be permanent, which will result in higher taxes for lower and middle-income households while wealthy households continue to benefit.
Nevadans react to the House’s vote
At the time of this story’s publication, Amodei had not released a statement explaining his vote. During his presentation to the Las Vegas Metro Chamber in October, and again when he voted for the House bill in November, Amodei defended the tax package.
Though Amodei himself stayed mum, Battle Born Progress Executive Director Annette Magnus condemned his vote to pass the tax plan. “We are extremely disappointed in Congressman Mark Amodei, who voted in favor of this bill even though the legislation repeals part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and forces $25 billion automatic cuts to Medicare annually to give trillions in tax breaks to the richest households and multinational corporations like Apple, Pfizer, and Wells Fargo.”
Children’s Advocacy Alliance of Nevada also condemned the bill’s passage. In her statement, Executive Director Denise Tanata voiced concern over the tax bill’s repeal of the individual health insurance mandate and its potential to trigger further health care cuts. “By reducing the number of children with health insurance this bill will make children sicker. Children who have health insurance coverage are healthier and have fewer preventable hospitalizations. They are more likely to receive preventive medical and dental care, be screened for developmental milestones, obtain needed timely treatment, and miss fewer days of school.”
Expect a final Senate vote tonight, and a final rush to prevent a government shutdown
While Amodei voted for the Trump-GOP Tax Plan, Reps. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas), Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson), and Ruben Kihuen (D-Las Vegas) all voted against. A similar dynamic may soon play out in the Senate, where Dean Heller (R) is expected to vote for the final bill while Catherine Cortez Masto (D) votes against. The Senate may vote as soon as tonight, but the House will have to pass the Senate’s modified version of the bill tomorrow due to the Senate parliamentarian ruling parts of the bill out of order with Senate rules this afternoon.
Once the Senate finishes its work on this tax bill, Congress must rush to pass a continuing resolution by Friday to avoid a government shutdown. A growing number of Democrats have stated they will refuse to vote for the spending bill unless votes are also scheduled for the DREAM Act, the insurance stabilization bills, and reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Unlike the tax plan, Republicans need Democratic votes to keep the federal government open, so these next 72 hours will be pivotal on Capitol Hill.