In search of their first major legislative victory of 2017, Republicans took an initial step forward on a sweeping package of tax cuts and tax reforms, as the House on Wednesday afternoon easily moved past the first parliamentary hurdle to a GOP tax reform package, setting up a final vote on the Republican tax plan for Thursday.
“The American people want and need something done right now,” said Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), as debate began in the full House.
“What we cannot afford is to do nothing,” said Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), as Republican backers argued the bill will spur new economic growth and needed job creation.
Unlike the House debates earlier this year on health care, where GOP leaders struggled repeatedly to wrangle the votes for a plan to overhaul the Obama health law, the tax debate got underway on the House floor with almost no suspense, as Republicans were feeling good about a Thursday victory.
The House GOP bill would streamline the tax code, taking it from seven to four income tax brackets, doing away with most personal deductions to simplify tax filing for individuals, and giving businesses a dramatic tax cut in hopes of spurring new job creation and economic growth.
“I’m cautiously – not even cautiously – I’m quite confident we pass it tomorrow,” said Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), a top ally of President Donald Trump.
Still, there will be Republicans who vote against the plan, not pleased with the changes in deductions for state and local taxes, though the GOP plan would allow up to $10,000 in property taxes as a write-off.
While that wasn’t enough for some GOP lawmakers in high tax states like New York, New Jersey and California, the opposition did not seem to endanger the bill.
Inside the fine print of the bill, there were all sorts of details that could create opposition, but many Republicans have made clear in recent days that they – and President Trump – need a big win, and the combination of tax cuts and tax reform seems to be a perfect place to start.
“There’s people with differences, but I think at the end of the day they understand how big this is for our country, and how big it is politically,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA).
“The vote will be strong,” said Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK). “Our whip count came back really good.”
While the House will vote on Thursday, a key Senate committee was still at work on a slightly different GOP tax reform bill; a vote in the Senate is not expected until after Thanksgiving.
There were already questions about the support of several GOP Senators for the tax reform package in that chamber, it could be that the Senate will again dominate the House when it comes to vote suspense.