John McCain, key Republican holdout, backs Senate tax bill
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., threw his support behind the Republican tax plan Thursday morning, boosting the bill's chances of passage ahead of an expected late-night vote.
McCain said that while the Senate bill is “far from perfect,” he believes it will “enhance American competitiveness, boost the economy and provide long overdue tax relief for middle class families.”
Passage of the bill would give President Donald Trump a much-needed legislative achievement in his first year in office, after several failed efforts to repeal Obamacare and little progress on other top priorities.
Assuming Senate Democrats all vote against the tax plan, Trump can only afford to lose two Republican votes on the measure — three would sink the bill. There’s a handful of other holdouts, including Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee, James Lankford of Oklahoma and Jeff Flake of Arizona, who have expressed concerns about how the bill will affect the deficit. They want a “trigger” mechanism that would hike taxes should the bill not prompt enough economic growth. Corker and Flake both announced this year that they would not seek re-election in 2018.
Trump and GOP lawmakers have repeatedly touted the bill as a boon for the middle class, despite several independent analyses that say otherwise. In fact, two-thirds of middle-class earners would see tax increases, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.
The bill would also eliminate the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, cutting the tax credits it offered to lower income earners who purchase healthcare. This would leave poorer Americans worse off, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said, while top earners and corporations would benefit.
According to the CBO, the bill would also increase the deficit by $1.44 trillion over the next 10 years.
McCain has been a deciding vote on the president's past priorities, helping to sink an Obamacare repeal this year, but said he would support this bill because it benefits "all Americans."
“This bill would directly benefit all Americans, allowing them to keep a higher percentage of what they earn,” McCain said in a statement. “For months, I have called for a return to regular order, and I am pleased that this important bill was considered through the normal legislative processes, with several hearings and a thorough mark-up in the Senate Finance Committee during which more than 350 amendments were filed and 69 received a vote.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., rallied his party behind the bill on Thursday morning.
“This is a good bill, and by overhauling our tax code, we can provide much needed support to the men and women who sent us here,” he said. “It’s our opportunity to overhaul our complex tax code and shift the economy into high gear.”
Democrats, meanwhile, have remained united in opposition.
The bill will "increase the deficit which will cannibalize support from everything we know is essential to economic growth [and] a strong middle class," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a tweet.