The Senate passed the GOP’s $1.5 trillion tax cut early Wednesday morning, leaving just one technical hurdle and President Trump’s signature as the final steps before the president’s top legislative priority becomes reality.
There was little last-minute drama in the Senate, where the final tally was 51-48, hardly different from the original version that cleared the Senate earlier this month.
Not a single Democrat voted for it, just as no House Democrat voted for a version Tuesday.
Moments after the bill was passed, Trump was quick to hail its passing and said if approved by the House Wednesday morning, there will be a news conference at 1pm.
'The United States Senate just passed the biggest in history Tax Cut and Reform Bill,' he tweeted just after 1am.
'Terrible Individual Mandate (ObamaCare)Repealed. Goes to the House tomorrow morning for final vote.'
House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted: 'Great news. The Senate just passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. After years of work, we are going to enact the most sweeping, pro-growth overhaul of our tax code in a generation.'
A wave of protesters provided one of the biggest bursts of emotion. A group of people yelled out ‘Kill the bill, don't kill us!’ as the final vote was being taken.
The final vote was 51 to 48, with all Democrats opposed and Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain absent while recovering from cancer treatment in his home state
Vice President Mike Pence presided over the historic vote. He later described it as a 'historic win for the American people'
The outcome of the vote was known in advance after wavering senators made their views known
‘The Sergeant at Arms will restore order in the gallery,’ said Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the chamber.
Pence’s appearance was a flourish that put him in the spotlight – though party leaders knew in advance his potential tie-breaking vote was not needed.
One protester yelled at GOP Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, 'Have you no shame?'
Flake voted for the bill, weeks after warning colleagues against complicity with Trump.
Moments after the decision, Bernie Sanders tweeted: 'Senate Republicans just passed their tax reform bill. What an utter disgrace.'
Before the vote, as the debate stretched toward midnight, Pence tweeted out a photo of himself huddling with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and economic advisor Gary Cohn.
The House still had to sort through one legislative hiccup – after Democrats raised a procedural objection to minor provisions in the bill that the Senate parliamentarian ruled were not allowable.
'After eight straight years of slow growth and under-performance, America is ready to take off,' said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky at a press conference after passage.
Asked about a need to 'sell' the bill, McConnell said: 'If we can’t sell this to the American people I think we ought to go into another line of work.'
Asked about the bill's low polling and Democrats' warnings Republicans would 'rue the day' if they voted for it, he said: 'Every single Democrat voted for this. They're all committed to repealing it and raising taxes on the American people. That's what's at stake in the fall of 2018.'
The parliamentary ruling, which got sustained after Republicans failed to strike it down, requires the House to revote on a new version bill Wednesday morning so that each bill is identical and President Trump can sign it.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer ripped the measure as ‘as sloppy and as partisan as the process used to draft it.’
Republican Senator from Utah and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Orrin Hatch (center) speaks beside Senate Majority Leader Republican Mitch McConnell (center right) and other Republican Senators during a news conference after Republicans pass Trump's $1.5 trillion tax cut bill
President Donald Trump (pictured on Monday) is expected to sign the tax cut as soon as Wednesday once it clears the House for a second time
He warned his colleagues: ‘Vote no. Otherwise, I believe the entire Republican Party, and each of you, will come to rue this day.’
He called for order during his floor speech and barked at colleagues who were talking rather than listening.
‘This is serious stuff. We believe you’re messing up America. You could pay attention for a couple of minutes,’ he grumbled.
Wavering senators removed most of the drama by announcing their support in advance. Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, who Trump mocked as ‘liddle’ during an earlier feud, flipped from opposing the earlier version to supporting the final conference report that cleared the Senate Tuesday night.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine announced her support in advance.
Sen. John McCain, who provided a dramatic thumbs-down to the GOP’s ‘skinny’ Obamacare repeal bill, is recovering at home from his treatment for brain cancer. He announced his backing for an earlier version of the tax cut.
The hours-long debate Tuesday was mostly pro forma. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch bemoaned the lack of Democratic support – although leaders decided to move the bill through ‘reconciliation’ procedures that allowed them to circumvent the minority and pass it on a simple majority.
‘Where is this bipartisanship that this country desperately needs?’ asked Hatch. ‘Our tax policy is for the birds,’ he added.
Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon called the final bill an ‘abomination’ as well as ‘the biggest bank heist – not just in American history but in the history of the world.’
As the hours drew on, senators continued to inveigh one way or the other to a mostly empty chamber but with an eye toward C-Span and cable audiences.
‘Not a single Democrat would break from party discipline,’ complained Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. ‘Why? Because they are so united in their rage at President Trump,’ the president’s former primary rival said.
He said families would see benefits in their pay stubs within weeks.
Democrats saw their hopes dashed of scoring another dramatic defeat of a GOP initiative, after seeing the Obamacare repeal tank earlier this year.
With passage all but assured, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the leading Democrat on the Finance Committee, turned his focus to future battles, warning Americans that Republicans would be ‘coming for your Social Security and Medicare before you take you Christmas tree down.’
Now, all that is left for the House to do is vote again following an earlier technical parliamentary error.
Protesters are taken into custody as the Senate votes on tax reform legislation on Capitol Hill
Protesters who yelled 'Kill the Bill' are removed by Capital Police during the senate vote
Speaker Ryan, who earlier said 'this is a day I've been looking forward to for a long time', will get to relive his dream Wednesday, because a few minor provisions in the House bill were out of order.
That would require another procedural motion to ensure both chambers are passing identical measures.
In that case, the House would meet at 9am Wednesday and then vote.
The rule prevents certain types of legislating in what is nominally a revenue bill – crammed into a special procedure that only requires a simple majority to pass to avoid having to negotiate with Democrats.
There are a 'couple little glitches,' Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News Tuesday night, but they are only 'minor adjustments.'
One of the out-of-order provisions lets people save in tax-deferred 529 plans to home school their kids, Politico reported. Another may deal with a college's exemption from an endowment tax.
It is up to Democrats or any senator to raise an objection to force a ruling.
A Senate leadership aide downplayed the hiccup in the final stretch.
'No one’s fault. They’re tiny provisions that don’t affect the overall bill. These small provisions were all that Dems could find. The House will pass again,' the aide said.
Not a single Democrat voted for the GOP-crafted conference report, and in the end Republicans lost only 12 of their own members
LETS DO THIS (AGAIN)! House GOP leaders hailed the bill minutes after the House passed it. Speaker Ryan hailed it as 'profound change.' Now the House may have to do a re-vote on a slightly-modified bill
An amendment by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz made it into the final conference report, allowing parents to withdraw up to $10,000 from tax-deferred 529 college savings plans for home schooling their kids at a younger age.
The plans could now be used for K-12 elementary and secondary tuition, including for home-schooling.
Aides were still scrambling to figure out how the technical ruling would affect the legislation.
Cruz touted the amendment on his Senate and campaign web site.
'By expanding choice for parents and opportunities for children, we have prioritized the education of the next generation of Americans,' Cruz said on the Senate floor when the amendment passed on a tie vote with an assist from Vice President Mike Pence.
A Senate GOP aide told DailyMail.com the only portion likely to be knocked out involved home schooling – not the bulk of the amendment for the first time making 529s eligible for K-12 schools including private or parochial schools.
In states that define home-schooling as a type of private school, it is possible that funding could still be eligible.
In another blow, of the PR variety, Senate Democrats objected to the pleasing name Republicans attached to the bill, the so-called short title, the 'The Tax Cuts And Jobs Act.'
WHAT'S IN THE FINAL TAX BILL?
- Top income tax bracket has dropped to 37 per cent from 39.6 per cent
- Other brackets are zero, 12, 22, 24, 32 and 35 per cent
- 'Standard' deduction for non-itemizers nearly doubles
- Interest is deductible only on the first $750,000 of new home mortgages
- Only individuals making more than $500,000 and couples earning $600,000 are in the top bracket
- Corporate tax rates drop from 35 per cent to 21 per cent
- Deduction for medical expenses and student loan interest and an exemption for graduate school tuition waivers
- Ends Obamacare tax penalty for failing to buy health insurance
- Doubles child tax credit to $2,000 for families earning up to $400,000
- $1,400 of child credit is refundable even for families that don't pay any income tax
- Doubles estate tax exemption to the first $11.2 million of inheritances
- Opens a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling
- 'Pass-through' corporations can deduct 20 per cent of income
- Elimination of corporate Alternative Minimum Tax
- No repeal of Johnson Amendment barring churches and religious organizations from election activity
The bill's remaining long title is: 'An Act to provide for reconciliation pursuant to titles II and V of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2018.'
Just 12 Republicans voted against the final conference report in the House. Among them were Reps. Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, the House Appropriations Committee chairman, Rep. Darrel Issa of California, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California.
All three of them represent high-tax states where some constituents could get slammed by a provision that caps the deduction for state and local taxes.
There was just one GOP opponent outside of the Democratic-leaning states of New Jersey, New York, and California – Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina.
President Trump lauded House Republican supporters on Twitter. 'Congratulations to Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, Kevin Brady, Steve Scalise, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and all great House Republicans who voted in favor of cutting your taxes!' he wrote.
Not a single Democrat voted for the GOP-crafted conference report – a steep partisan split that is already leading to questions about whether the cuts will be able to endure for the long term.
The White House maintained that the president could be facing a tax increase, even as it said his business would fare well.
'We expect that it likely will, certainly on the personal side, could cost the president a lot of money. Again, the president's focus hasn't necessarily been at all on himself,' said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Pressed on whether the billionaire president would have to pay more, despite the doubling of the estate tax exemption, changes for 'pass through' corporations, and the top rate reduction, Sanders responded: 'I said that in some ways, particularly on the personal side, the president will likely take a big hit, but on the business side he could benefit. But the biggest focus for this White House has been to make sure all Americans are better off today, after this tax package passes, then they were beforehand.’
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sat in the House chamber for a portion of the final debate.
In another signal of the low-drama move to final passage, Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine each announced their support for the final bill Monday.
That left the GOP within sight of victory even as Sen. John McCain of Arizona recuperated at home from complications of his brain cancer.
The Senate passed its first version of the tax cut by a vote of just 51-49.
'This is profound change, and this is change that's going to put our country on the right path,' Ryan said immediately after the vote.
'We said in 2016 that it would take real tax reform for families and businesses to get the American economy going. And we were serious,' he said.
And he indicated that more tax cuts were on the way in the future. Individual rate cuts are set to expire in a decade under required procedural rules.
'We have every intent of making those permanent... it's obviously our intent to make all those permanent,' he said
The initial tax legislation was introduced barely six weeks ago on November 2, and the final House-Senate compromise text wasn't released until Friday evening.
THE TRUMP TAX BRACKETS
$0 to $9,525 – 10%
$9,525 to $38,700 – 12%
$38,700 to $82,500 – 22%
$82,500 to $157,500 – 24%
$157,500 to $200,000 – 32%
$200,000 to $500,000 – 35%
$500,000 and up – 37%
Married couples who file jointly
$0 to $19,050 – 10%
$19,050 to $77,400 – 12%
$77,400 to $165,000 – 22%
$165,000 to $315,000 – 24%
$315,000 to $400,000 – 32%
$400,000 to $600,000 – 35%
$600,000 and up – 37%
'This is a day I’ve been looking forward to for a long time,' said House Speaker Paul Ryan
Speaker Paul Ryan was able to help hold his caucus together and get a bill passed just days after final text was released
The race for immediate passage was driven by several factors.
Republican leaders were determined not to let the 1,100 page final bill linger so it might get picked apart by critics. On Saturday, just in the initial hours after it was announced, it was revealed that a change to the language for 'pass-through' corporations would benefit income-earning real estate holders like President Donald Trump and opponent-turned-supported Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee.
In a show of Republican unity despite polls showing public opposition to the plan, the House GOP easily turned back a Democratic motion to recommit the bill to committee with instructions to change it.
Protesters in the House visitors' gallery shouted 'Shame! Shame!' as the final tally was taken.
Ryan cast the bill in kitchen table terms, saying it would benefit families 'living paycheck to paycheck' – even as Democrats pointed out the bill crafted by Republican negotiators slashed the top income tax rate, lowered corporate taxes, and doubled the size of the exemption for estates that come under the federal estate tax.
Under the bill, estates worth $11.2 million would be subject to the estate tax, up from $5.6 million.
The bill slashes income tax rates, including lowering the top bracket of 39.6 per cent down to 37 per cent.
Corporate tax rates would plummet from 35 per cent to a new 21 per cent bracket.
The outcome of the House vote wasn't in doubt Tuesday, as Democrats took their last opportunity to bash the proposal as it moved forward.
'Today we choose what kind of country America will be: one that champions the ladders of opportunity for all, or one that reinforces the power of the wealthiest and well-connected,' said House minority leader Nancy Pelosi of California.
'Why aren't they joining us on insisting for a better deal for American families?' she said of Republicans. 'Why aren't they joining us in demanding that we write real bipartisan tax reform that puts the middle class first? Because helping the middle class has never been their goal,' she said.
'Republicans will vote to catastrophically explode our national debt ... where are the vaunted Republican deficit hawks? Are they endangered? Are they extinct?' she said.
The presidnet fired off a pair of gloating tweets Tuesday morning before the vote took place
Republicans pushed back against Democratic claims that the bill was structured to reward the donor class.
'Opponents to this tax bill, they don't really worry about tax cuts for the rich. They worry about tax cuts for you,' said Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady.
'Given the choice between the federal government and you, we choose you, hard-working American taxpayers. We choose you, the only special interest that truly matters,' he said.
Republicans insist that the sweeping package of tax cuts for corporations, small businesses and individuals will boost economic and job growth. They also see the measure as key to having any hope of retaining their majorities in the House and Senate when voters go to the polls next November.
The end-of-year sprint toward passage represents a remarkable recovery of Republican fortunes since the middle of this year, when the party's drive to dismantle former Democratic President Barack Obama's Obamacare healthcare law crumbled in the Senate and prospects for a tax overhaul seemed doomed by party infighting.