WASHINGTON — Republicans rammed a near $1.5 trillion package overhauling corporate and personal taxes through the House on Thursday, edging President Donald Trump and the GOP toward their first big legislative triumph in a year in which they and their voters expected much more.
The near party-line 227-205 vote came as Democrats on the other side of the Capitol pointed to new estimates showing the Senate version of the plan would boost future taxes on lower and middle-income Americans. Those projections, coupled with complaints by some GOP senators about their chamber’s proposal, suggest party leaders still face a challenge in crafting a measure that can make it through Congress over solid Democratic opposition.
House passage raised GOP hopes that Trump would be able to claim a big victory in a year highlighted so far by the Senate crash of the party’s effort to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law. The first major tax rewrite in three decades has been a career-long goal of countless Republicans politicians, who tout the reductions as a boon to families, businesses and the entire economy.
“With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in the House, we are on the brink of a pro-growth and pro-family tax reform package becoming law,” said Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa Township, who recently announced that he is resigning from Congress. “This plan will deliver tax relief and put more money in the pockets of hardworking Ohioans. How much? For the average middle-income family of four in my district, it’s a tax cut of $2,700. That is $2,700 that allows them to plan for their future, save for retirement, and invest in their kids’ education.
“I’ve said time and time again that this is an historic effort,” Tiberi added. “Today, the House did its job. Next, the Senate must do theirs. We cannot let this once-in-a-generation opportunity go to waste.”
Thirteen Republicans — all but one from high-tax California, New York and New Jersey — voted “no” because the plan would erase tax deductions for state and local income and sales taxes and limit property tax deductions to $10,000. Democrats derided the plan as a scheme to help the rich but do little for others.
“Republicans have brought forth a bill that is pillaging the middle class to pad the pockets of the wealthiest and hand tax breaks to corporations shipping jobs out of America,” declared House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.
Both the House and Senate versions of the legislation would cut the 35 percent corporate tax rate to 20 percent, while reducing some personal taxpayers’ rates and erasing and shrinking deductions for individuals. Projected federal deficits would grow by $1.5 trillion over the coming decade.
The House measure would collapse today’s seven personal income-tax rates into four: 12, 25, 35 and 39.6 percent. The Senate would have seven rates: 10, 12, 23, 24, 32, 35 and 38.5 percent.
Both bills would nearly double the standard deduction to around $12,000 for individuals and about $24,000 for married couples and dramatically boost the current $1,000 per-child tax credit.
Each plan also would erase the current $4,050 personal exemption and annul or reduce other tax breaks. The House would limit interest deductions to $500,000 in the value of future home mortgages, down from today’s $1 million, while the Senate would end deductions for moving expenses and tax preparation.
Each measure would repeal the alternative minimum tax paid by higher-earning people. The House measure would reduce and ultimately repeal the tax paid on the largest inheritances, while the Senate would limit that levy to fewer estates.
New numbers from Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation showed that beginning in 2021, many families earning under $30,000 annually would face higher taxes under the Senate package. By 2027, families making less than $75,000 would face tax boosts while those making more would enjoy lower levies.
Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Jeff Flake and John McCain of Arizona, Bob Corker of Tennessee and Lisa Murkowski, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin have yet to commit to backing the tax measure.
Republicans controlling the Senate 52-48 can approve the legislation with just 50 votes, plus tie-breaking support from Vice President Mike Pence. With solid Democratic opposition likely, that means they can lose just two GOP votes.