House passes tax overhaul bill, to vote again Wednesday

By Allen Cone and Danielle Haynes
House passes tax overhaul bill, to vote again Wednesday
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks with reporters at a press conference following the passage of the House of Representatives tax bill on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. The bill passed 227-203 and is now headed to the Senate for a vote. Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 19 (UPI) -- The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a sweeping tax overhaul bill, but the chamber will need to re-vote Wednesday morning because of Senate reconciliation rules.

The bill passed the House by a 227-203 vote.


The 500-page, $1.5 trillion bill lowers the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, and the top individual tax rate from 39.6 percent to 37 percent.

"Today, we are giving the people of this country their money back," House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said from the House floor prior to the vote.

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The Senate was debating the bill Tuesday afternoon and was expected to pass it Tuesday night. Even if all 48 Democrat senators vote against the tax bill, Republicans expect to have enough votes to pass it.

The only Republican senator not committing to voting 'yes' is Jeff Flake of Arizona. Sen. John McCain also won't vote for the bill because he's recovering from chemotherapy to treat brain cancer.

House Republican leadership on Tuesday sent a note to membership saying representatives will need to vote on the bill again Wednesday because the Senate will have to strip some provisions out of the legislation according to reconciliation rules.

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Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch is defending a late change to the upper chamber's version, which gives breaks to real estate companies.

The Utah Republican wrote a letter to Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee -- who has opposed the tax reform bill -- and said he was the author of the change.

Hatch said he was "disgusted" by news reports suggesting it was added to buy Corker's vote, and that the Tennessee lawmaker had anything to do with adding it.

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"Both assertions are categorically false," Hatch wrote in the letter. "With respect to the second, I am unaware of any attempt by you or your staff to contact anyone on the conference committee regarding this provision or any related policy matter.

"To the contrary, virtually all the concerns you had raised in the past about the treatment of pass-through businesses in tax reform were to voice skepticism about the generosity of various proposals under consideration.''

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky supported Hatch's letter.

"Any insinuation that this was airdropped in [at the last minute] is false -- as Senator Hatch's letter lays out," McConnell spokeswoman Antonia Ferrier said, adding that it was "a House provision that Senator Corker never advocated for -- period."


Last week, Corker said he would vote for the final tax reform package as the only Senate Republican to vote against the original tax bill. At the time, he said it would add to the national debt.

In the reconciliation with the House's version of the bill, the final bill doesn't change the deficit -- which is projected to exceed $2 trillion over the next decade if temporary tax cuts are eventually made permanent, according to an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Corker said he changed his mind because the bill is a "once-in-a-generation opportunity" to allow companies to become more competitive internationally and more productive -- and said he hadn't even been aware that Hatch's provision was included.

Corker made millions last year in commercial real estate income. Hatch's provision reduces taxes on income from real estate limited liability corporations, or LLCs.

Democrats in both chambers did not participate in writing the bill.

"The final draft of the GOP tax scam is the most shameless and brazen theft of them all," House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said Monday. "Republicans will vote to let the wealthiest one percent steal the future of the middle class in America. The GOP tax bill will go down as one of the most scandalous, obscene acts of plutocracy ever."


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