Trump Meets with Senate Republicans; Budget Committee Approved Tax Bill

President Trump met with Senate Republicans at the U.S. Capitol on November 28 to again press for passage of the Senate GOP’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Bill. Shortly thereafter, the Senate Budget Committee approved the GOP tax bill, removing the last hurdle for the tax bill before it moves to the Senate floor.

Approved Tax Bill

The luncheon between the President and GOP senators concluded just prior to the Senate Budget Committee’s approval of the fiscal year 2018 budget resolution and GOP tax bill. The committee approved the legislation by a 12-to-11 party line vote. A full Senate vote on the bill is expected later this week but could come as early as November 29. Floor amendments to the bill are expected.

GOP Holdouts

Senate Republican leadership, along with Trump, continue to press forward in their efforts to rally the necessary 50 GOP votes for the tax bill’s approval. “We know we can’t move forward until we get 50 people satisfied, and that’s what we’re working on,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters after meeting with the president. He likened the challenge to dealing with a rubik’s cube.

Several Senate Republicans have remained noncommittal to the tax bill, while Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., has expressly stated he’s a no vote on the bill as it stands. However, chances of the bill’s success seemed brighter on November 28 for Republican leadership, as several key GOP votes expressed optimism.

Johnson and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., both voted yes on the bill in the Senate Budget Committee on November 28, a move that allows the bill to come to the Senate floor. Corker’s vote was swayed by an “outline of an agreement ” with GOP leadership, he told reporters. Later in the day, Johnson said in an interview that Trump has said he will “fix” the issues Johnson has with the tax bill.

Additionally, Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Susan Collins, R-Me., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., met privately with Trump after the GOP luncheon. Graham signaled the meeting resulted in “progress.” As with Johnson, Trump reportedly told Collins that he will also address the problems she has with the tax bill.

Democrats Opposed

Senate Democrats remain largely united in their opposition of the GOP tax reform bill. Senate Finance Committee (SFC) ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a November 28 tweet that the bill would be “devastating for middle class working Americans.” Likewise, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said on November 28 that the bill will raise taxes on middle-class families. “Bipartisanship and compromise are possible on tax reform. We can do a better job than this and not saddle the next generation of Americans with even larger deficits, even larger debt,” Schumer said in a tweet.

In contrast, SFC Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, in calling for bipartisanship on November 28, said that he has “never seen it worse” when it comes to partisan politics. “I wish we could get Democrats and Republicans together – this is a time when we ought to. I call on my Democrat friends, let’s work together and get this done,” Hatch told reporters at the Capitol. At this time, it remains unclear whether the bill will have any, even if marginal, Democratic support.

By Jessica Jeane, Wolters Kluwer News Staff

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