David K. Li and Joe Tacopino
Mitch McConnell, flanked by Republican Senators, speaks to reporters. Photo: Getty Images
The Senate early Saturday narrowly voted to pass an expansive $1.2 trillion tax reform bill.
The 51-49 vote on the nearly 500-page bill took place shortly before 2 a.m. after Democrats attempted a last-ditch amendment to stall the vote until Monday in order to read the bill.
Republican members broke out in enthusiastic applause as Vice President Mike Pence pounded the gavel and announce the bill’s passage at 1:51 a.m.
Donald Trump praised the news tweeting, “Look forward to signing a final bill before Christmas!”
Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee was the lone Republican to cross party lines, joining all 48 Democrats in voting against it.
Senate Democrats decried that the vote was even taking place in the middle of night.
“Millions of Americans must be watching in stunned disbelief tonight as the Republican Senate betrays the middle class for the benefit of faceless multinational corporations,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said on the Seante floor. “What is happening tonight is the worst of the United States Senate.”
Republicans used a burst of eleventh-hour horse-trading to pass the tax overhaul.
The Senate and House will now negotiate a final version to reconcile differences in their bills.
Republicans took a big step toward giving President Trump a major legislative achievement in his first year.
On Friday, Senate Republicans made a last-minute scramble to tweak the bill to placate GOP holdouts.
One holdout, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, switched to the yes column after winning an agreement to add a deduction of up to $10,000 for local property taxes that would match the House bill.
The original Senate bill had completely eliminated all state and local taxes as deductions on federal returns — including the property tax.
Other changes aimed at winning votes included: maintaining the alternative minimum tax for corporations; increasing the pass-through deduction for small businesses from 17.4 to 23 percent and boosting the repatriation rate for corporate cash stashed offshore.
Both Sens. Steve Daines of Montana and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said the larger break for small businesses swayed them to become supporters.
“I sought assurance and I was given assurance that I will be at the table” when Senate-House bargainers write a compromise version of the bill, Johnson said about talks that he has had with GOP leaders.
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake said he was voting for the bill after being promised a voice in determining the fate of Dreamers, young illegal immigrants who had been protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Corker, who will not seek re-election after his current term, said he couldn’t vote for a measure that increased the nation’s debt.
On Friday, the Tax Policy Center said its study showed an even higher deficit — $1.2 trillion over a decade.
David K. Li and Joe Tacopino, New York Post, December 2, 2017