As Republican tax vote nears, more senators waver

Published 15/12/2017 in Politics

As Republican tax vote nears, more senators waver
FILE PHOTO: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks at a press conference at the Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s drive to win passage of a sweeping Republican tax bill in the U.S. Congress hit potential obstacles on Thursday as two more Republican senators insisted on changes, joining a list of lawmakers whose support is uncertain.

Florida’s Marco Rubio, a former presidential contender, told reporters on Capitol Hill that if the bill’s proposed refundability to taxpayers of the child tax credit is not expanded, “I‘m a no … It has to be higher than $1,100.”

Rubio and Mike Lee of Utah are in talks with other senators about expanding child tax credit refundability, said Conn Carroll, a Lee spokesman. Lee is now “undecided on the tax bill as currently written,” Carroll said in a telephone interview.

The child tax credit now in the U.S. tax code is meant to lower the tax bills of working families with children.

As the fast-moving Republican tax package has evolved, it has tilted increasingly toward benefiting businesses and wealthy taxpayers, a trend that aides were saying privately is a growing concern for some lawmakers.

Provisions for offsetting the revenue costs of last-minute changes also were becoming worrisomely unclear, they said.

After resisting demands for weeks to cut the top income tax rate for the richest taxpayers, the bill’s authors did agree in recent days to lower it to 37 percent from 39.6 percent.

“My concern is that if you found the money to lower the top rate … you can’t find a little bit to at least somewhat increase the refundable portion” of the child credit? Rubio said.

Factbox: Provisions of the U.S. Republicans’ final tax bill

  • Factbox: Republicans to keep an eye on as Senate nears vote on tax bill
  • Carroll said if the child tax credit were to be made fully refundable, it would cost about $7 billion in lost revenues over 10 years. Lee and Rubio want expanded refundability.

    Under current law, a maximum child tax credit of $1,000 per eligible child under 17 is allowed on a portion of family earnings. In its current form, the legislation expands that credit but Lee and Rubio are seeking more help for families, especially in lower-income brackets.

    The two senators failed in an effort to do that on the Senate floor when the tax bill initially was debated.

    Republicans have a 52-vote Senate majority. So they can lose no more than two of their own votes and still win approval, with Vice President Mike Pence able to vote to break a tie.

    Pence has delayed a planned trip to the Middle East in case his vote is needed on the final tax bill.

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