Washington (AFP) – Republicans in the US Senate scrambled to salvage their tax plan Thursday after it hit unexpected roadblocks, leaving President Donald Trump still waiting for a major political victory he hopes to secure before year’s end.
Trump had hoped his party would pass the controversial bill as early as Thursday night, handing the White House and Republicans their most significant legislative achievement of his young presidency.
But after 11th-hour negotiations over how to offset the cost of dramatic tax cuts for corporations and more modest cuts for individuals, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell postponed votes until Friday midday.
A tense standoff on the Senate floor threw the bill’s fate into question, after a new projection showed the measure would add $1 trillion to the federal deficit.
The analysis complicated Trump’s argument, shared by many Republicans, that the tax cuts would pay for themselves through additional economic growth — and left some senators mulling adding future tax hikes into the plan to ensure sufficient revenue.
In a dramatic move, three Republican senators refused to vote on a procedural measure until they were assured that more changes could be made to the legislation.
Republicans hold a narrow 52-48 Senate majority. Three defectors would kill the bill, and a handful were showing reservations about a measure that experts say would benefit corporations and the wealthy.
Senator Bob Corker, who has publicly criticized Trump in recent months, wants a “trigger” inserted to raise taxes if revenues fall short of projections. But the Senate parliamentarian told lawmakers that such a mechanism would not be allowed under budget rules.
Republicans ultimately voted to proceed, but the showdown highlighted the delicate balancing act in getting the tax plan across the finish line.
– Economic boost? –
“It doesn’t look like the trigger is going to work,” number two Senate Republican John Cornyn told reporters, according to US media.
One option for boosting revenue would be to raise corporate tax rates after six years, perhaps at half a percentage point annually, Cornyn reportedly said.
The bill as it stands would reduce the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. Trump has repeatedly called for a 20 percent corporate rate.
Lawmakers were seeking new ways to circumvent the unexpected snags.
Senator Lindsey Graham felt “confident that if there’s a shortfall in the projections that there’ll be a mechanism in the bill to deal with the…