Senate passes tax bill; Capito votes in favor, Manchin opposes

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate passed its tax overhaul bill early Saturday morning after a Friday filled with late changes to the legislation.

Lawmakers received a bill Friday evening with revisions marked in pen, including portions of the law be removed by a written “X” and sections recorded in the margins of pages.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., voted in favor of the Senate version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, while Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., joined fellow Democrats, independents Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine, and Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee in voting against the legislation.

The final vote was 51-49.

Capito said the bill will provide relief to the middle class and small businesses, as well as foster economic growth.

“They will give our economy the boost it so desperately needs,” she said in a release. “I can’t fathom why anyone would not vote in support of the kind of relief and the kind of help this tax bill provides.”

Manchin said in a statement the tax bill was the result of Republicans speeding through the legislative process.

“I am rejecting this flawed and rushed bill, because I cannot in good conscience vote for legislation that hurts West Virginia families, seniors, students, teachers and business owners,” he said.

“I visited the White House with my Republican colleagues to meet with President Trump, I assembled meetings with his economic team and my Senate colleagues, and I offered idea after idea to try to make this bill bipartisan.”

Manchin led a press conference Wednesday with 13 Democratic senators and King — who caucuses with Democrats — about drafting bipartisan legislation.

Manchin told reporters Friday afternoon he had not seen the bill at the time, and was concerned why Republicans chose to draft legislation without Democratic input.

“I told them yesterday: ‘Don’t you want Democrats? Don’t you want me or two or three of us to work with you?'” Manchin said. “Don’t balloon the debt, make sure the tax cuts are permanent for working-class people. My ask is not a big ask.”

Manchin put forward a motion shortly after 12:30 a.m. to send the bill to the Senate Committee on Finance for its members to make changes. This would include making individual tax rate deductions for the middle class permanent, as well as maintaining the medical expense deduction, student loan interest deduction, retirement savings incentives, homeownership incentives and the historic tax credit permanent.

The motion failed 38-61, with Capito voting against.

The Senate approved an amendment 52-48 striking a provision that would have solely benefited Hillsdale College, a conservative private institution in Michigan, by prohibiting the college from a tax on university endowments.

Manchin voted in favor of the amendment, while Capito voted “nay.”

The Senate bill would adjust the seven individual income tax brackets, a change that would phase out by 2026. The corporate tax rate would be cut from 35 to 20 percent, and “pass-through” businesses would be taxed at 23 percent.

The Senate bill also would cut the individual mandate from former President Barack Obama’s health care law. The U.S. Congressional Budget Office reported on Nov. 8 the move would result in the number of uninsured Americans increasing by 13 million in 2027, as well as a causing a 10 percent increase in health insurance premiums.

Two changes were made to the bill to earn Maine Sen. Susan Collins’ support: the minimum medical expense deduction would go from 10 percent to 7.5 percent over the next two years, and people would also be able to deduct state and local taxes up to $10,000.

The Joint Committee on Taxation reported after the vote the revised Senate bill would increase the federal deficit by more $1.4 trillion between 2018 and 2027.

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Monday to send the Senate bill to a conference committee. Manchin said Friday afternoon Democrats in both congressional chambers were shut out of hearings on each version.

“The House bill was draconian, it was so bad. It hurts people, and how anyone could vote for that makes no sense to at all to me except they are going to say, ‘Well, maybe the Senate can make it better,” he added.

The House voted on Nov. 16 to pass its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, with Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Evan Jenkins supporting the bill.

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