WASHINGTON -- Democrats could exert greater sway over the shape of tax-overhaul legislation if they weren't focused wholly on defeating it, President Donald Trump said in a Twitter post Friday, a day after the House passed its version of a $1.5 trillion overhaul of the tax code.
In a pre-dawn tweet, Trump said, "If Democrats were not such obstructionists and understood the power of lower taxes, we would be able to get many of their ideas into Bill."
In another post on Twitter, the president lauded "Great numbers on Stocks and the Economy." He continued, "If we get Tax Cuts and Reform, we'll really see some great results."
Trump has been exultant since the House's passage Thursday of a tax bill that ranks as his and the Republican Party's top legislative priority. He visited the U.S. Capitol ahead of the vote to talk to fellow Republicans there.
With the passage of a tax bill in the House, Republicans have moved closer to delivering the first big legislative victory for Trump and their party.
The House bill passed on a mostly party-line 227-205 vote. Thorny problems await in the Senate, though, where a similar measure received a politically awkward verdict from nonpartisan congressional analysts showing it would eventually produce higher taxes for low- and middle-income earners but deliver deep reductions for those better off.
The Senate bill was approved late Thursday by the Finance Committee and sent to the full Senate on a party-line 14-12 vote. Like the House measure, it would slash the corporate tax rate and reduce personal income-tax rates for many.
Key differences, however, include provisions to delay a corporate tax-rate cut by a year and to make various individual tax breaks expire by 2026. Thanks to an eleventh-hour change in the Senate Finance panel, the two plans would both create new limits on the carried-interest tax break that benefits investment managers.
The GOP's sternest challenges may arise from other provisions. Early opposition among Senate Republicans has emerged over the tax treatment of partnerships and other pass-throughs, the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act individual mandate and the potential deficit implications of the plan. And, questions abound regarding international tax measures.
Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have been particularly critical of the inclusion of the individual-mandate repeal in the tax bill, fearing that would disrupt the health care system.
Sen. John McCain -- who was opposed to the so-called skinny repeal of the Affordable Care Act that scrapped the individual mandate in July -- nonetheless applauded the Senate Finance Committee for completing its tax legislation markup. McCain has pushed for a regular-order process for a tax bill with bipartisanship.
"I am pleased that the Finance Committee has followed the regular order by holding numerous hearings and spending four days debating the bill and considering amendments in committee," McCain said in a statement Friday.
The Finance Committee, in the hours before its vote, was beset by sharp exchanges between Republicans and Democrats, who spent the day trying -- and failing -- to change a bill they said would favor corporations and the rich over everyone else.
As midnight approached, Republicans on the usually collegial committee united to push an amended version of their tax overhaul toward the Senate floor, prompting a tense exchange between Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the committee chairman, over who really benefits from the bill.
"That whole thing about higher wages, well, it's a good selling point," Brown said. "Just spare us the bank shot, spare us the sarcasm, and the satire."
Hatch, who had tolerated hours of debate on a bill that Republicans have always planned to push along party lines, had heard enough.
"I come from the poor people, and I've been here working my whole stinking career for people who don't have a chance, and I really resent anybody saying I'm just doing it for the rich," he said. "Give me a break."
The exchange highlights the degree to which Democrats have found themselves outboxed in the most sweeping tax rewrite in generations.
While Republicans in both chambers have allowed Democrats to offer amendments to the legislation, they have universally rejected those provisions. That has left Democrats with little recourse other than publicly pillorying the bill.
Before the House vote Thursday, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the minority leader, accused Republicans of passing the bill in the cloak of darkness.
"With straight faces and with the speed of light -- I have to give them credit -- they raced this thing through in the dark of night," she said. "They're trying to sell a bill of goods to the middle class that this is in their interest, that this is a middle income tax cut."
The exchange between Hatch and Brown appeared to awaken a hearing room in the Senate's Hart Building that had endured nearly 12 hours of talk about taxes.
Defending his position, Brown said he could not stand silent in the face of Republican talking points about trickle-down economics that he found to be false.
"I get sick of the richest people in this country getting richer and richer and richer," Brown said.
Hatch then raised his gavel and slammed it against the dais nine times to silence the Ohio senator.
"What you've said is not right," Hatch said. "I come from the lower middle class originally. We didn't have anything, so don't spew that stuff on me."
He added: "This bull crap that you guys throw out there really gets old after a while."
Then, as a vote was being recorded on an amendment Democrats sought, Hatch said he forgot to say "nay" because he was so mad. The amendment -- like many others Democrats offered -- was defeated on a party-line vote.
Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the panel's top Democrat, blamed the process, saying Republicans were offering up "one partisan provision after another when we've been kept in the dark" by the majority.
The rancor reinforced what was already anticipated -- that the GOP tax plan is unlikely to get any Democratic senators on board. That makes it crucial for Senate Republicans, who control only 52 votes in the chamber, to lose no more than two members.
Under budget rules that Republican leaders plan to use to fast-track their bill past Democratic objections, the tax bill's revenue cost must stay under $1.5 trillion, and it can't add to the long-term deficit.
An aide to Brown said that while he and Hatch did not get a chance to speak afterward, there was no personal animosity between the senators and described the exchange as "a passionate argument about the policies in the bill."
The Senate now begins its Thanksgiving recess, during which Republican leaders will try to sell reluctant senators within their own party on the legislation so that they can have a successful vote in early December.
Information for this article was contributed by staff members of The Associated Press; by Alan Rappeport of The New York Times; and by Sahil Kapur of Bloomberg News.
Ranking Senate Finance Committee Democratic member Sherrod Brown (shown) and committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, shown in meetings earlier in the week, clashed Thursday night over who would benefit from the Senate GOP tax overhaul plan. “That whole thing about higher wages, well, it’s a good selling point,” Brown said. “Just spare us the bank shot, spare us the sarcasm, and the satire.” Hatch fired back, saying: “I come from the poor people, and I’ve been here working my whole stinking career for people who don’t have a chance, and I really resent anybody saying I’m just doing it for the rich,” he said. “Give me a break.”
Ranking Senate Finance Committee Democratic member Sherrod Brown and committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, (shown in meetings earlier in the week), clashed Thursday night over who would benefit from the Senate GOP tax overhaul plan. “That whole thing about higher wages, well, it’s a good selling point,” Brown said. “Just spare us the bank shot, spare us the sarcasm, and the satire.” Hatch fired back, saying: “I come from the poor people, and I’ve been here working my whole stinking career for people who don’t have a chance, and I really resent anybody saying I’m just doing it for the rich,” he said. “Give me a break.”
A Section on 11/18/2017
Print Headline: Trump says Democrats self-defeatist on tax bill