The GOP cannot afford to lose his vote.
The GOP’s vision of passing a tax bill in the Senate is slowing fading as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has threatened to vote no on it unless the bill expands the child tax credit. From The Washington Post:
“I understand that this is a process of give and take, especially when there’s only a couple of us fighting for it, the leverage is lessened,” Rubio (R-Fla.) said Thursday in the Senate. “But given all the other changes made in the tax code leading into it, I can’t in good conscience support it unless we are able to increase [the child tax credit], and there’s ways to do it and we’ll be very reasonable about it.”
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rubio’s partner in pushing for the expanded child tax credit, is undecided on whether to support the Republicans’ final tax bill, according to a Lee spokesman.
What is the child tax credit? It’s meant to offset the expenses you pay to raise a child. Right now, it’s worth $1,000 and refundable if the tax credit is more than the total amount of income taxes you have to pay. You have to make at least $3,000 a year in order to qualify. It’s not available to those with a tax rate of 15% or higher. The credit phases out throughout the tax brackets, too.
The new tax bill has the child tax credit at $2,000, but a maximum of $1,100 is refundable Rubio and Lee want it set at $3,000. As I said before, right now, it’s for those who make at least $3,000 a year. Rubio and Lee want to include those “who pay payroll taxes but do not earn enough to pay income taxes to claim the expanded credit.” This change “would expand the credit by $80 billion over 10 years, a smaller change than they proposed for the Senate bill.”
The GOP cannot afford to lose Rubio. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) voted against the bill the first time and has not given any inkling that he will change his mind. That means if Rubio votes no, Vice President Mike Pence will have to come in and cast his tie break vote.
But that won’t be necessary because moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has not come out as 100% behind this bill along with Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ). If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell loses Rubio, Corker, Flake, and Collins, then the bill will fail.
President Donald Trump thinks Rubio will change his mind. From The Hill:
President Trump predicted Thursday that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) will ultimately vote for the Republican tax plan.
“I think that Sen. Rubio will be there for sure,” Trump told reporters at the White House after a speech on deregulation.
The president called “a great guy” who has been “very supportive” of his agenda.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed this sentiment at the White House press briefing. From The Wall Street Journal:
Asked about Mr. Rubio’s announcement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the administration was “extremely excited about the progress we’ve already made to double the tax credit” but said it would “continue working with the senator.”
“We’re going to continue working with them to get the job done,” she said. “But we think we’ve made great strides and frankly pretty historic movement in terms of the child tax credit.”
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) has worked on the child tax credit and told the Wall Street Journal that it’s “moving in the right direction.” Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch has not spoken to Rubio, but he has some concerns.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) wants the final vote on the bill next Tuesday. This may not happen due to these questions that remain, according to NBC News:
But huge questions remained as of Thursday afternoon: How many tax brackets would there be and where would the income thresholds be set? How would new benefits, like the lower top rate, be financed? Which provisions would be permanent and which ones would expire? Which ones would be immediate and which ones would phase in and out over time?
“If you just add up the things we know, it seems they’re pushing in the direction of more cost,” Marc Goldwein, senior vice president for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which advocates for fiscal discipline. “But here’s what else we know: They’re only allowed to have it cost $1.5 trillion. There must be offsets somewhere.”
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