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Senate leader says there is now enough support for sweeping reform bill

Fri, Dec 1, 2017, 20:34

Telling reporters “we have the votes,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, walks to the chamber after a closed-door meeting with Republican lawmakers




US Republican leaders on Friday said they had garnered sufficient support in the Senate to pass a historic bill to overhaul the US tax code, after frantic last-minute dealmaking and pressure from the White House helped win over enough of the remaining holdouts.

Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader, declared “we have the votes” for a sweeping tax reform package set to deliver a big win to President Donald Trump and slash corporate taxes to their lowest levels in decades.

Mr Trump has told lawmakers that by the end of this year he wants to sign into law the most comprehensive revamp of US taxes in a generation, a demand that left Republicans on Friday racing to recover from setbacks the previous night.

But haggling party leaders secured enough support for Mr McConnell to declare that he had the 50 votes needed to pass the bill with no Democratic support and vice-president Mike Pence breaking a possible tie.

The core of the bill is a drastic tax cut for corporations allied with more modest reductions for individual taxpayers, which Democrats say add up to unacceptable giveaways for the wealthy and powerful.

Hurdles ahead

The Senate, however, is not the final hurdle. Any bill it passes will need to be merged with separate legislation that has passed the House of Representatives, a process that could raise new objections from lawmakers.

Corporations were in the dark on Friday over whether they would get a promised cut from 35 per cent to 20 per cent, as Senate Republicans were yet to unveil their final bill having considered scaling back the cut to address deficit concerns.

GOP lawmakers have been running huge risks by attempting to speed hugely complex tax legislation through Congress on the back of sparse debate and no Democratic party backing.

– Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017