Republican lawmakers in Congress brimmed with excitement as they returned to the U.S. Capitol on Monday, ready to push a sweeping overhaul of the federal tax code through the House and Senate as early as Tuesday, declaring that it was a major victory for taxpayers, the GOP and President Trump.
“It is a big win,” said Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA). “This is momentous. This is historic.”
“One of the things that we’ve been chastised on the Republican side is that we can’t get big things done,” said Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK).
“Doing the tax bill is the hardest thing,” Lucas said just off the House floor.
“It also bodes well for next year, because it shows people will come to the table and negotiate,” said Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH).
In a bid to speed up the process, the House voted on Monday to move up the start of Tuesday’s session, making it more and more possible that the Senate might approve the bill by Tuesday night.
“I think we’ve got the votes,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), as several GOP Senators announced on Monday that they would back the plan.
“This is going to be stimulative for the economy,” Perdue added, expressing GOP confidence that it would further boost economic growth, and create more jobs along the way.
The last hope of Democrats to scuttle the bill was lost when GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine – who had voted against Republican efforts to overhaul the Obama health law – announced on the Senate floor that she would support the tax reform bill.
“The bottom line is that most Maine households will see their taxes go down,” Collins said.
In the House, there were some Republicans ready to vote against the bill, mainly GOP lawmakers from California, New Jersey and New York, who argue the changes on the deduction of state and local taxes will unfairly punish their constituents.
“I wanted to support a tax reform plan that would increase economic growth, increase worker paychecks, incentivize small business investment and ensure New York families are better off,” said Rep. John Faso (R-NY). “Unfortunately, this plan does not meet all of those criteria.”
Other expected ‘no’ votes in the House on Tuesday included Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) – but GOP leaders remained confident they would have more than enough votes to pass the bill.
Some of the highlights of the GOP plan include:
+ Seven individual tax brackets of 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37%.
The current individual brackets are 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35% and 39.6%.
+ Standard deduction almost doubled $6,350/$12,700 to $12,000/$24,000
+ State and local taxes change will only allow you to deduct up to $10,000 for sales, income and property taxes – this is a big change for those who itemize.
+ Mortgage interest deduction limit lowered to $750,000 from $1 million. No change for current mortgages (they are grandfathered in).
+ Zeroes out the individual mandate tax penalty in 2019 under the Obama health law – note the date – not in 2018. Still in effect next year.
+ Does not change tax exemption on reduced tuition awards for graduate students, and employer tuition aid at colleges and universities.
+ Alternative Minimum Tax lives on for individuals, but the exemption limit is increased.
+ Federal estate tax is not abolished, but the plan doubles the amount of the inheritance exemption.
+ Corporate tax rate lowered to 21% – original plan was 20%.
+ Almost all business tax changes are permanent in the GOP bill.
+ Almost all individual tax changes in the bill expire after 2025 (8 years).
If you want to read more about the details of the bill, this is the 570 page explanation that has been put out by Republicans in the Congress.