Senate to start sifting through its tax reform bill Monday

By Ed Adamczyk  |  Nov. 10, 2017 at 8:41 AM
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Nov. 10 (UPI) -- Next week, the Senate Committee on Finance will start to address the details, questions or concerns about its tax reform plan, the panel said.

Senate Republicans revealed their plan for changing the U.S. tax code on Thursday, which has significant differences from the House version. The two proposals will need to be reconciled before a self-imposed passage deadline at the end of the year.

"This is just the start of the legislative process in the Senate," committee chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said in a statement. "We expect robust committee debate on the policies in this bill, [we] will have an open amendment process, and hope to report legislation by the end of the week."

House Republicans spent several days this week debating and finalizing details -- or "marking up" -- their plan. The bill, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, was approved by the House Ways and Means Committee Thursday and will receive a full House vote next week.

Now, the Senate will begin the same process on Monday.

Republicans, who hold slim majorities in both houses of Congress, are trying to pass the controversial overhaul of the tax code after Tuesday's elections indicated that popular support for President Donald Trump's government may be waning. Many GOP candidates lost local and state races and some lawmakers are cautious about removing favored tax deductions while a restive electorate watches.

"The House will pass its bill, the Senate will pass its bill and then we will get together and reconcile the differences, which is the legislative process," House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Thursday. "And that's how this process will continue."

Like the House bill, the Senate version lowers the top individual and corporate tax rates -- but unlike its counterpart, the upper chamber maintains the medical expense and student loan interest deductions. The Senate version also eliminates the state and local tax deduction (SALT). In both, the estate tax exemption is expanded to about $11 million per person, but the House bill repeals the tax by 2024.

The Senate bill also provides a seven-bracket tax structure, compared to a cut to four in the House's.

The Senate Committee on Finance is expected to spend much of next week marking up its plan before it receives a full chamber vote. Ultimately, one version must be agreed on by both houses of Congress and Trump to accomplish the first major overhaul of the U.S. tax code since 1986.

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