Senate Republicans pass sweeping overhaul of US tax code

Bill passed in early hours of Saturday will benefit big businesses and the wealthy, and give Donald Trump his first major legislative victory

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, pictured with a staffer from his office, gives a thumbs-up sign. He said a final vote was expected late on Friday. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

Senate Republicans have passed the most sweeping overhaul of the US tax code in three decades, a significant step that moves Donald Trump closer to achieving the first major legislative victory of his presidency.

The Senate passed their tax plan in a 51-49 vote early Saturday morning after a frantic rewrite of the legislation. Senator Bob Corker was the sole Republican to vote against the bill, which would bestow huge benefits on US corporations and the wealthiest Americans. The House and Senate will not need to reconcile the differences between their tax plan.

“We think this is a great day for the country,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, at a celebratory press conference after the vote.

The vote marked a significant feat for Republicans, who suffered a series of embarrassing blows earlier this year by failing on multiple occasions to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act amid opposition within their own party. Trump and Republicans in Washington subsequently staked their political fortunes on the hope that tax reform would not suffer the same fate as healthcare.

House speaker Paul Ryan said: “For the first time since 1986, both the House and the Senate have passed a major overhaul of our nation’s tax code. Now we will move quickly to a conference committee so we can get a final bill to President Trump’s desk.”

The rush to pass the bill before the end of the week sparked outcry from Democrats, who said it would be impossible to fully digest the legislation before voting began.

Lawmakers receieved the nearly 500-page bill, some of it handwritten, hours before they voted on the sprawling tax plan that will affect nearly every US business and taxpayer.

“I defy any member of the Senate to stand here, take an oath that they have read this and understand what in the world it means to businesses and families and individuals,” said Senator Dick Durbin, the minority whip from Illinois, holding up page notes scribbled in the margin.

After closing debate, the Senate began the tedious process of a vote-a-rama, in which senators can offer an endless series of amendments. At midnight, vice-president Mike Pence…

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