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Republican Lawmakers Finalize US Tax Reform Bill

  • VOA News

FILE - Republican senators gather to meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Repblican effort to overhaul the U.S. tax code, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Dec. 1, 2017. A vote on the bill could be held as early as next week.

U.S. Republican Senate and House negotiators finalized a final version Friday of their compromise $1.5 trillion tax bill, after trying to appease recalcitrant Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who demanded an expansion of the child tax credit that provides benefits for low-income families.

Republican sources said the measure should be released later Friday.

Republican lawmakers hammered out differences Wednesday between the House and Senate versions, and both chambers of Congress plan to vote on the final bill early next week, with the intent of submitting it to President Donald Trump for his signature before Christmas.

The timeline could still be disrupted by Rubio, who said Thursday he would not vote in favor of the bill unless it includes a more generous child tax credit, which has been beneficial to lower-income families by partially offsetting the expenses of raising children.

A spokeswoman for Rubio said Friday he was reviewing the final bill to see if the tax credit was expanded enough to meet his demand.

Earlier Friday, Rubio tweeted that expanding the tax credit is simply the right thing to do for families who are struggling financially.

“The #workingclass is always forgotten in D.C. We need to add more #taxcuts for #workingclass parents especially those earning 20k- 50K.”

The tax credit is currently set at $1,000 per child, and Representative Kristi Noem, one of the Republican lawmakers responsible for producing the final bill, said the credit in the final compromise plan had been increased to $1,400.

No apparent support from Democrats

No Democrats have publicly expressed their support for the legislation, which they have attacked as a giveaway to corporations and the wealthiest of taxpayers, including Trump, a billionaire.

The measure would cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, heavily weighted toward lower corporate taxation, and perhaps add $1 trillion or more to the country's long-term $20 trillion debt obligations to investors and foreign governments such as China – the largest owner of U.S. debt.

Trump administration officials say millions of individual taxpayers, but not everyone, would see their annual tax obligation to the government cut, in many cases by a few hundred dollars, or in the case of wealthy taxpayers, by thousands of dollars.

FILE - President Donald Trump speaks about tax reform during an event at Harrisburg International Airport, Oct. 11, 2017, in Middletown, Pennsylvania. Passage of a tax reform bill would hand Trump his first major legislative victory in his nearly 11 months in office.
FILE - President Donald Trump speaks about tax reform during an event at Harrisburg International Airport, Oct. 11, 2017, in Middletown, Pennsylvania. Passage of a tax reform bill would hand Trump his first major legislative victory in his nearly 11 months in office.

In one final draft of the legislation, the individual tax rate for the highest income earners would be cut from 39.6 percent to 37 percent.

The country's corporate tax rate, now at 35 percent and among the highest in the industrialized world, would be cut substantially to about 21 percent.

With Democrat Doug Jones winning a special U.S. Senate election Tuesday in Alabama, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer has asked that the final tax vote be delayed until January after Jones is sworn in. But Republicans appear intent on voting before then while they have one more Republican vote in the Senate.

An original version of the Senate bill was approved 51-49 with Rubio’s support. So if Rubio votes against the bill, it could still pass, though with a narrower margin.

If approved and signed into law, the tax legislation would be the first major legislative achievement of Trump's nearly 11-month presidency after he and Republicans failed earlier this year dismantle national health care policies championed by his predecessor Barack Obama.

"I think that we are going to be in a position to pass something as early next week, which will be monumental,” Trump told reporters Friday outside the White House.

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