Senate GOP considers scaling back tax package after deficit projections

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans weighed scaling back the tax cuts in their massive package to secure crucial support as congressional analysts said Thursday the legislation would add $1 trillion to the nation’s debt over the next decade.

Senate Republicans adjourned for the night around 9:15 p.m. and will reconvene at 10 a.m. Friday morning. A final vote has not yet been scheduled, but Republican leaders are hopeful they will vote Friday.

Republicans are still making major changes to the bill up to the last minute, including one that would roll back some of the tax cuts after six years to appease deficit hawks. The first revamp of the tax code in three decades — a top political priority of President Trump — would affect nearly every American and business.

The scramble to alter the bill came after senators said the chamber’s parliamentarian had ruled that automatic “triggers” designed to guard against big deficits would violate Senate rules. GOP leaders’ main concern was winning over lawmakers, including Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona, concerned about adding more red ink to the deficit.

GOP leaders also were struggling to placate Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, who wanted an increase in the deduction for business income.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had expressed confidence early in the day, but he has little margin for error with a 52-48 majority. He can afford to lose two votes while counting on Vice President Mike Pence to break the tie.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the bill will have “alternative, frankly, tax increases we don’t want to do” to deal with deficit concerns. Flake said the tax increases would raise about $350 billion over 10 years, though he didn’t specify which taxes would go up.

Forced to rewrite the bill behind closed doors, Republican hopes of passing the bill late Thursday slipped to Friday.

In a dramatic turn, Democrats forced a vote on whether to return the measure to the Senate Finance Committee so it could be rewritten to ensure smaller deficits. They nearly prevailed in derailing the measure as Corker, Flake and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin held out for just over an hour, repeatedly cajoled by their colleagues. They eventually joined fellow Republicans to scuttle the Democratic proposal.

Corker has been pushing to add automatic tax increases in future years if the package doesn’t raise as much revenue as projected.

With the provision seemingly dead, Corker said senators would change the bill to…

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