WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate voted Wednesday to more forward with debate on the chamber’s tax bill, with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., among those already voicing their support of the legislation.
“This bill will empower and power our economic growth and provide great opportunities for American workers,” Capito said on the Senate floor prior to the vote. “It will also lead to increased wages. It will also help our small businesses expand.”
Capito was among the 52 Republicans who voted in favor of the procedural move, with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., joining 47 other Democrats and Independents in voting against opening debate.
Manchin said in a statement he has yet to see a final version of the Senate’s version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
“I haven’t been able to review any legislation or see a Congressional Budget Office score to consider its impacts on West Virginia,” he added.
Manchin held a press conference Tuesday with 14 other senators urging cooperation on drafting a bipartisan tax measure.
“I will continue to try to work across the aisle in the hopes that Republicans will slow down and work with us,” Manchin said Wednesday. “The working people of West Virginia know that our country needs tax reform but we must work together to truly achieve comprehensive, bipartisan reform that allows the middle class, small businesses and our economy to grow and thrive.”
The Senate bill would include adjusting the seven individual tax brackets, lowering the corporate tax rate to 20 percent in 2019 and repealing the individual mandate of the current health care law, which requires Americans to have health insurance or otherwise pay a fine.
According to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, 13 million Americans would lose health care insurance in 2027 if the Senate plan was enacted in its current form.
Capito, during an appearance on MetroNews “Talkline,” said the repeal only says the government will not fine people if they do not purchase insurance coverage.
“You can still buy it. The subsidies are still there,” she said. “Medicaid is untouched.”
The Senate tax bill would also nearly double the standard deduction and expand the child tax credit, yet this would come with the elimination of deductions on state and local taxes. It would also tax “pass-through” businesses at 17.4 percent.
The CBO reported earlier this week the deficit would increase by more than $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years under the Senate proposal, with tax changes for those making less than $75,000 a year expiring by 2027, resulting in tax increases.
Capito told “Talkline” host Hoppy Kercheval it is possible someone could propose an amendment Thursday to make the individual tax changes permanent, but the chances of it passing were low.
“In subsequent Congresses, there are going to be opportunities to make this permanent,” she said.
Outside of Capito’s Charleston office Wednesday afternoon, around 25 people of an array of organizations gathered to protest her support of the tax bill.
Sean O’Leary, the senior policy analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, said with what the public knows about the Senate plan, it appears to be a measure that benefits wealthy Americans the most.
“Most West Virginians at the end of the day will, on average, see a small tax increase, and if you’re very wealthy, you’ll see a sizable tax cut,” he said.
Capito said on “Talkline” she talked to multiple constituents over the Thanksgiving holiday about tax overhaul legislation, with a majority in favor of passing legislation.
“I didn’t come to Washington to hurt people, but I also came to Washington to make a big and bold change. This is an opportunity I think I have as a leader to make a change in one of our fundamental areas of federal government,” she said. “To make a change that benefits everybody.”
A vote on the Senate bill could happen as early as Thursday. The House of Representatives passed its tax plan on Nov. 16, with Republican Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Evan Jenkins among the 227 Republicans voting in favor.