The Senate Budget Committee has approved the Republican tax reform bill, per The NYT.
After a day of drama and flip-flopping, Republicans convinced their own senators to vote along party lines and accept the tax reform bill, which has been widely criticized for blatantly favoring corporations and the wealthy over middle and working class Americans. Even Senators Bob Corker and Ron Johnson, both of whom had expressed significant issues with the bill, voted yes.
The approval comes after a meeting between lawmakers and president Donald Trump, a meeting that Senate Democrats boycotted. They had planned to meet Trump that day, but Trump then tweeted that he didn’t “see a deal,” so they publicly announced it wasn’t worth going at all. Republicans emerged from the meeting with the president confident in their chances, and the Budget Committee’s approval would seem to support that view.
The bill passing through the Senate Budget Committee allows the Senate to bring the bill to the floor for a full vote, setting up a showdown in the Senate which will likely play out in the coming weeks. Democrats unanimously oppose the Republicans’ tax reform plan, and will almost certainly vote unanimously against it.
Several Republicans have not yet voiced support for the bill, but their meeting with the president seems to have assuaged those fears. Senator Susan Collins, who has made headlines in recent months for voting against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, has not announced her decision yet, but said after the meeting that she was more optimistic. She says she was guaranteed the chance to add amendments to the bill on the Senate floor.
However, it is still unclear whether Senate Republicans have the votes to get the bill through Congress. At least seven Republicans have expressed discomfort with the bill, the full list being Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, Susan Collins, Ron Johnson, Jerry Moran, James Lankford and Steve Daines. You will notice that three of those names have already appeared in this article: Corker and Johnson voted to pass the bill through the Budget Committee, and Collins looks increasingly like a yes. That leaves just four Republican senators on the fence, and if just two of those vote yes, the Republicans will pass this bill. Democrats need at least three Republican senators to vote against the bill to stop it.
We’re likely to see a flurry of activity regarding this bill in the next week. Stay tuned.