Last week, Republicans set the stage for the sole legislative win of Trump’s presidency when the Senate finally passed their version of the tax bill.
Today however, a handful of House Republicans refused to sign off on the Senate bill and voted to send the legislation to conference committee where the two versions of the bill must be reconciled — putting the entire measure at risk.
Conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives are now signaling that they will block several key promises that had been installed in the measure to appease certain Republicans in the Senate.
Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Susan Collins (R-ME) were given assurances by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that their requested provisions would be included in the final version of the bill.
Collins demanded legislation that would offset the negative effects of repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate. Flake was promised that there would be protections for the children of undocumented immigrants who lost their security when DACA was rescinded by the Trump administration.
Furthermore, in the Senate version, in a mad dash to bring the bill to the floor for a vote, a provision “of the current tax code that sets an alternative minimum tax floor for wealthy individuals” was preserved. The same provision – long despised by conservatives – would be eliminated in the House bill, setting the stage for another confrontation between conservative and moderate Republicans in the two chambers.
House Republicans are clearly not prepared to deliver on any of these items, and have already suggested that they will stall the legislation until their demands are met.
“We still have the same issues. Nothing has changed in the last two months just because we’re fulfilling our promise on delivering on tax reform,” said Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee. “I find it problematic to be promising something that the House has shunned from very early on.”
Tonight’s development is par for the course for a Republican caucus that would rather wheel and deal their way to tax reform without a modicum of unity from their party. With still no legislative victories despite majorities in every branch of government, Republicans are proving themselves unable to govern even in the most favorable of conditions.