Senate tax bill stalls on deficit-focused ‘trigger’

Published 01/12/2017 in Business, Economy & Finance

Senate tax bill stalls on deficit-focused ‘trigger’
Demonstrators gather outside the U.S. Capitol to protest the Republican tax plan as it works through the Senate in Washington November 30, 2017. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Thursday delayed voting on a Republican tax overhaul as the bill was tripped up by problems with an amendment sought by fiscal hawks to address a large expansion of the federal budget deficit projected to result from the measure.

The Senate debated the legislation late into Thursday and adjourned, putting off any votes until Friday morning. It was unclear if a decisive vote on the bill would occur then.

The delay underscored nagging concerns among Republican fiscal conservatives about the deficit impact of the bill. That set up the possibility that its deep tax cuts might have to be moderated, that future tax increases might be built in, and that some conservatives might seek to attach spending cuts, all approaches that could throw up new political problems.

White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told reporters in the Capitol: “I don’t think tax cuts are going to be scaled back. I think it would still be historic tax relief for corporations and for middle-income families.”

The tax bill is seen by Republicans as crucial to their prospects in the November 2018 elections, when they will fight to keep control of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Since taking office in January, President Donald Trump and Republicans now in control of Congress have yet to pass major legislation, a fact they hope to change with their proposed tax- code overhaul, which would be the biggest since the 1980s.

Democrats, expected to unanimously oppose the tax bill, have dismissed it as a giveaway to the wealthy and corporations.

Republican Senator Bob Corker and others had tried to add a provision to the bill to trigger automatic future tax increases if the tax cuts in the bill did not boost the economy and generate revenues sufficient to offset the deficit expansion.

But the Senate parliamentarian barred Corker’s “trigger” proposal on procedural grounds.

Republican tax bill stumbles on deficit ‘trigger,’ new options weighed

  • Economic growth to partially offset deficit impact of U.S. tax plan: JCT
  • Factbox: Republicans to watch in U.S. Senate tax bill fight
  • Trump wants to enact tax cuts before January. The House approved its own tax bill on Nov. 16. It would have to be merged with the Senate bill, if it is approved, before any final measure could go to Trump for his signature.

    Republicans have 52 votes in the 100-member Senate, giving them enough to win if they hold together. With Democrats opposed, Republicans could lose no more than two of their own votes, with Vice President Mike Pence able to break a 50-50 tie.

    Trump has attacked Corker and Flake on Twitter. Both senators are not seeking re-election.

    In early October, the president called Corker, “Liddle’ Bob Corker” in a tweet. Corker tweeted that the Trump White House was an “adult daycare center.” Days later, he called Trump a liar who had damaged U.S. standing in the world. Trump tweeted back saying Corker “couldn’t get elected dog catcher.”

    Trump earlier this month tweeted that Flake’s political career was ‘toast’“ In a dramatic Senate speech, Flake said U.S. politics had become inured to ”reckless, outrageous and undignified” behavior from the White House.

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