Republicans have a final deal on their tax bill — here's what's in it

  • House and Senate Republicans have come to a preliminary final agreement on their compromise tax bill.

  • The compromise bill would cut the corporate tax rate to 21% — instead of 20% in the original bills, but still much lower than the current 35% rate.

  • The bill would also lower the top individual tax rate to 37% from the current 39.6%, a more generous cut than the Senate bill proposed originally.

Republican leaders on Wednesday reached an agreement on their final tax bill, paving the way for a federal tax code overhaul by Christmas.

Republicans are moving with full speed to pass the tax overhaul, a process that gained urgency after Democrat Doug Jones' unexpected victory Tuesday in Alabama's Senate election.

The bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, is in a conference committee to iron out discrepancies between the House and Senate versions of the legislation. The final version of the legislation could have significant changes from original versions that passed the House and Senate.

The Republican members of the committee are closing in on a deal that would make the corporate tax cuts slightly less generous while also lowering taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Sen. John Cornyn, the second-highest ranking Republican member in the Senate, said the deal was close on Wednesday.

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"We’re very close," Cornyn told Politico. "I don't want to get out in front of the chairmen, but we’ve very close."

Sen. Orrin Hatch, a conferee and chair of the Senate Finance Committee, told reporters the GOP members of the conference committee "got a pretty good deal." The Republican members were scheduled to go to the White House to brief the president on the deal.

The Associated Press reported that the GOP conferees came to a preliminary agreement on the bill on Wednesday.

While the official text of the bill has not been released and would still need to be evaluated by congressional scorekeepers like the Joint Committee on Taxation, Republican leaders say they are aiming to hold a vote on the compromise bill on Monday and Tuesday. That could get the bill to Trump's desk by Wednesday or Thursday of next week.

While the TCJA's passage is not guaranteed, the GOP has enough of a cushion to get the bill through both chambers, and Jones' win is likely to light a political fire under the party to get it done.

Here's a rundown of some of the big changes that are being considered:

  • A less generous corporate rate cut: Republicans may cut the corporate rate to 21% from the current federal rate of 35%, instead of the 20% proposed in both the house and Senate bills. The new rate would start in 2018.

  • A lower top individual tax rate: The top individual bracket would drop to 37% instead of the 38.5% proposed in the Senate bill. It would still be down from the current 39.6%.

  • Keep the estate tax, but raise the threshold to qualify: Instead of phasing out the estate tax over time, like the House bill, the compromise bill would instead simply increase the threshold for an estate to qualify — from $5.6 million to around $11 million. That aligns with the Senate bill.

  • Repeal the corporate alternative minimum tax (AMT): The corporate AMT in the Senate bill was a sore spot for many companies because it would have negated the effects of many popular deductions and credits, like the research and development credit.

Some of the proposed changes could earn pushback from Republicans. Changes to healthcare provisions have prompted complains from GOP Sen. Susan Collins, and Sen. Marco Rubio also made noise on Twitter about not making the child tax credit more generous in the compromise bill.

"20.94% Corp. rate to pay for tax cut for working family making $40k was anti-growth but 21% to cut tax for couples making $1 million is fine?" Rubio tweeted on Tuesday.

The Florida Republican pushed for an amendment to be added to the original Senate TCJA that would have made the child tax credit refundable, but it was defeated.

Republicans can only afford two defections in the Senate for the bill to pass. Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, voted against the original version of the legislation when it moved through the chamber.

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