December 1, 2017 / 6:04 PM / a year ago

Republicans to watch in Senate tax bill fight

WASHINGTON, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Three more U.S. senators signed on to support a sweeping Republican tax bill on Friday as party leaders worked to address the concerns of lawmakers worried about its impact on the federal deficit, healthcare and property taxes.

Here are Republican senators pivotal to the bill’s fate.


The Montana Republican has signed on to support the bill after having voiced concerns about its treatment of “Main Street” businesses. He announced his support for the bill on Friday after winning more tax relief for non-corporate pass-through businesses, which include partnerships, sole proprietorships and other non-corporate enterprises.


The senator from Wisconsin endorsed the bill after demanding more favorable treatment for pass-throughs. The bill now features a 23 percent tax deduction for such business owners, up from the original 17.4 percent, according to statements from Daines and Johnson.


The Arizona conservative announced in a statement on Friday that he would vote for the tax bill. He said he had succeeded in eliminating an $85 billion expensing “budget gimmick” and gotten a firm commitment from Senate leaders and the Trump administration to work on permanent protections for illegal immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.


Oklahoma’s Lankford came aboard on Friday after having questioned whether tax revenues from economic growth would compensate for the expected increase in the national debt under the plan.


He announced on Friday he was voting for the bill. Moran had earlier been wary of its impact on the national debt, pointing to the recent experience of fiscal problems following tax cuts in his home state of Kansas.


The moderate senator from Maine has said she is not committed to voting for the bill.

She has qualms about its inclusion of a repeal of a federal fee imposed on people who do not comply with Obamacare’s “individual mandate.” Collins fears this would drive up insurance premium costs, canceling out tax-cut gains that many constituents might get from the tax bill.

Collins seemed mystified on Friday by comments from other Republicans that she was one of 50 senators on board with the tax bill. “I don’t know how Senator Cornyn could speak for me.”

Collins says Republican leaders have promised to address her concerns by taking up two healthcare provisions before the end of the year to help mitigate the impact of repealing the mandate fee. Those provisions would help insurers cover expensive patients and continue Obamacare subsidy payments for low-income people for two years.

Collins also has prepared an amendment to the tax bill to make state and local property tax deductible up to $10,000, a provision that is part of the House of Representatives’ tax bill. Both the Senate and House bills end deductibility of state and local tax income and sales tax. Unlike the House bill, the Senate bill ends property tax deductibility too.


The Arizona maverick and former presidential nominee announced on Thursday that he would back the tax bill.


Corker, a deficit hawk from Tennessee, stalled momentum on the tax bill on Thursday by demanding Republicans look for more ways to keep the bill from ballooning the deficit.

Corker and Flake held up an otherwise routine vote on Thursday after the Senate’s parliamentarian ruled they could not add to the bill a mechanism to trigger tax increases in coming years if the bill fails to boost the economy enough to offset a higher deficit.

The Joint Committee on Taxation on Thursday provided a new estimate that said the bill was expected to expand the deficit at $1 trillion, far short of assertions by some Republicans that the tax cuts would pay for themselves.


The senator from Alaska will vote for the tax bill, she wrote on Twitter on Wednesday evening. (Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh)

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