Today, the House of Representatives passed its version of the Trump Tax Plan, mostly along party lines. With the House vote, President Donald Trump is one step closer to accomplishing a key part of his legislative agenda. But at the same time, Senate Republicans have run into trouble over Republicans’ decision to include repeal of a key part of Obamacare in their tax bill. Let’s examine the difference between what was in the House bill and what is in the Senate bill, and whether Trump can expect either of them to reach his desk by the end of the year.
What has the House just done?
With limited public vetting or debate, the House rushed to pass its version of the Trump Tax Plan on a near party-line vote of 227-205. 13 Republicans joined all 192 House Democrats to vote against. If it becomes law, the legislation will bring about a major redistribution of wealth to the wealthiest of Americans, as it primarily cuts taxes on the top 1% of income earners while triggering automatic budget cuts that hit working class households the hardest.
As expected, Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City) voted for the bill. In Las Vegas last month, Amodei voiced strong support for House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisconsin) push to pass the tax bill by Thanksgiving. Nevada’s other three Representatives, Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas), Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson), and Ruben Kihuen (D-Las Vegas), all voted against.
Now, it’s the Senate’s turn.
With the House’s work done (at least for now), all eyes turn to the Senate as that chamber of Congress takes up its version of the Trump Tax Plan. Already, Senate Republicans have parted ways with House Republicans in opting to eliminate state and local tax deductions while leaving in place medical expense deductions that the House just voted to repeal. The Senate tax bill also makes the 35% to 20% corporate rate cut permanent, while allowing individual rate cuts and tax credits to expire after 2026.
Another major difference in Senate Republicans’ tax bill is its repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate to have health insurance. Republicans have spun it as $338 billion in savings that they can use on tax cuts, but Congressional Budget Office analysis shows repeal would lead to 15 million more uninsured Americans and an average 10% hike in insurance premiums nationwide. Senate Republicans have essentially made their tax bill into a sort of “backdoor Trumpcare”, and that has already led Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) to cast doubt on whether she could vote for the bill.
Heller’s tweeted the tax plan’s praises. Are his tweets rooted in facts?
Throughout this month, Senator Dean Heller (R) has echoed Trump Administration talking points in promoting the Senate’s version of the Trump Tax Plan. On Tuesday, Heller tweeted that the Trump Tax Plan would “add more than 8,000 jobs in our state and boost middle class income by nearly $2,500 in Nevada.” Yet two days later, Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation released analysis that shows most American households earning less than $75,000 would actually see a tax increase under the Senate plan.
Heller has also tweeted in support of the Senate tax bill’s child tax credit. While it’s more generous than what’s in the House’s bill, it’s designed in a way that primarily benefits wealthier households while leaving little for low-wage parents who need it the most. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) have countered with their own child tax credit legislation that could cut child poverty by nearly half, but Republicans have thus far stuck with their own proposal.
Despite House’s rush, Senate may prove tougher for Trump and his tax plan
Hours after Collins raised her objections to the Senate bill, Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) stated he could not accept the temporary cut in the “pass through” business tax. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Johnson said, “[N]either the House nor Senate bill provide[s] fair treatment, so I do not support either in their current versions.”
Because Republicans currently hold a 52 seat majority in the Senate, they can only afford to lose two votes. If any more Republicans join Collins and Johnson in opposition, the Trump Tax Plan will essentially meet the same fate as the multiple Trumpcare bills that failed in the Senate earlier this year. And if Republicans lose the December 12 special election to fill the seat formerly held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), two Republican defections will be enough to defeat the bill.
The Senate Finance Committee is currently marking up the Senate version of the Trump Tax Plan. The White House and Republican leaders are hoping the Senate will pass their bill before December 12. But as we’ve seen with previous Trumpcare bills, there’s no guarantee the Senate can meet this deadline.
Cover photo by Martin Falbisoner, licensed under Creative Commons, and made available by Wikimedia.