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US House Set to Vote on Republican Tax Bill

  • VOA News

The U.S. Capitol building is lit at dusk ahead of planned votes on tax reform in Washington, Dec. 18, 2017.

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote Tuesday on a Republican $1.5 trillion tax bill that will provide tax relief for most Americans, but benefit the wealthy the most, according to a non-partisan tax analysis group.

Following the House vote, the Senate will vote on the measure later Tuesday, according to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. If both houses approve the measure, it will be sent to President Donald Trump for him to sign into law, completing the first extensive modification of the U.S. tax code in more than 30 years and giving Trump his first major legislative victory.

Republican lawmakers appear to have the votes to permanently cut corporate taxes from 35 to 21 percent, temporarily and modestly reduce taxes paid by wage and salary earners, and boost America’s national debt by up to $1.5 trillion.

The non-partisan Tax Policy Center concluded Monday the bill would cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans next year, but average cuts for top earners would greatly exceed reductions for people earning less.

FILE - President Donald Trump listens people speak in support of Republican tax policy reform, during an event in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Dec. 13, 2017, in Washington.
FILE - President Donald Trump listens people speak in support of Republican tax policy reform, during an event in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Dec. 13, 2017, in Washington.

The legislation also partially repeals former president Barack Obama's signature health care law and is expected to add nearly $1.5 trillion to the federal debt during the next decade.

Republican supporters of the measure are hoping that eight consecutive years of U.S. economic growth will continue and accelerate due to a stimulus they hope the tax cuts will provide.

"This is going to make such a positive difference in the lives of working Americans," House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

Democratic opposition

Democrats, who were excluded from the Republican closed-door bill drafting meetings, are unanimously opposed to the measure. They have argued the tax package favors big corporations and the wealthy, largely ignores the middle class and forces the elderly to pay a heavy price.

"There are so many rip-offs in this bill that people are going to say this is some kind of new Gilded Age," said Ron Wyden, the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Tax Committee.

FILE - Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a rally against the Republican tax bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 15, 2017.
FILE - Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a rally against the Republican tax bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 15, 2017.

Unless Republicans withdraw their support at the last minute, Congress could send the tax bill to the White House for Trump’s signature as early as Wednesday. Minority Democrats do not have the votes to kill the bill on their own, but have vowed to make it a major campaign issue in next year’s midterm elections.

As the Republican bill moves closer to becoming law, many polls show that most Americans oppose it.

A Harvard CAPS-Harris survey conducted between December 8-11 indicates 64-percent of American voters oppose the measure. A new CNN poll conducted by the research firm SSRS shows 55-percent of Americans oppose it, a 10-percent increase since early November. A Reuters/Ipsos released on December 11 found nearly half of Americans opposed the plan.

When asked about the bill's weak showing in the polls, Ryan said he had "no concerns whatsoever," and added "when you have a mudfest on TV … that’s what’s going to happen. Results are going to make this popular."

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