For the first time since President Trump took office, the Republican-controlled Senate passed something of substance. The tax plan, which many still doubted would pass as recently as this Friday morning, was able to sneak through 51-49. No Democrats voted for the bill and one Republican, retiring Senator Bob Corker, voted against it.
The bill also repeals the individual mandate attached to Obamacare.
“We have an opportunity now to make America more competitive, to keep jobs from being shipped off shore and to provide substantial relief for the middle class,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell during a 2 a.m. press conference Saturday morning.
Now, they’ll attempt to reconcile their version with the House tax plan. This will be the hard part and under normal circumstances the many gaps between the bills might make it close to impossible to reconcile, but the GOP desperately needs a win after multiple failures to pass anything important, including attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare. They are motivated to figure out how to make the bills merge despite major roadblocks. The House bill has four tax brackets. The Senate bill has seven.
Perhaps we’ll end up with 5 and a half.
The vote in the early morning hours of Saturday came after Trump met this week with key senators, including leadership and holdouts. Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, was also spotted outside of the Senate chamber in the hours leading up to Saturday’s vote.
McConnell had a narrow path to getting the bill through the upper chamber. With a 52-seat majority, he could only afford to lose two GOP senators and still let Pence break a tie.