With Republicans in the House of Representatives ramming through their unpopular, controversial tax reform bill today, all eyes are now on the senate. Statements made by Sen. John McCain today, however, won’t engender much hope in the GOP ranks.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has already announced that the senate has no interest in the House bill. Instead, they’ve been working on their own set of giveaways to corporations and ultra wealthy Americans, and will use the reconciliation process to combine the two bills down the road.
This strategy hinges on the GOP’s ability to pass their highly controversial tax reform package in the senate, which most experts agree constitutes a tax increase for millions of middle class Americans and will add trillions of dollars to the debt.
Recent history suggests that passing important legislation is no guarantee for this congress. In fact, quite the opposite. 10 months into this congressional term, and Republicans have yet to pass any meaningful legislation into law, despite commanding a majority in both houses of congress, and control of the White House.
Earlier this week, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) became the first Republican senator to publicly announce his opposition to his own party’s bill. “If they can pass it without me, let them,” Sen. Johnson told the Wall Street Journal, adding, “I’m not going to vote for this tax package.”
Now Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has expressed his displeasure with the senate bill, too. He even went further and issued a thinly veiled threat to his own party that he could vote against it.
McCain famously cast the deciding vote that saved Obamacare from history’s scrapheap – infuriating Mitch McConnell and President Trump in the process. In addition to his unwillingness to force up to 25 million Americans to give-up their health insurance, he said he voted the bill down because Republicans didn’t follow “regular order” in bringing it to a vote.
The tactics used by the GOP for their so-called “repeal-replace” bill amounted to anything but “regular order.” It was drafted in secret, no public hearings were held, and it was brought to a vote under budget reconciliation, which bypassed the normal committee markup process and allowed for passage with only 51 votes – not the customary 60.
After the bill’s failure, McCain pleaded with his colleagues from the well of the Senate to end their partisan game-playing and underhanded maneuvering and return to regular order. Those pleas appear to have fallen on deaf ears.
Asked if he felt the tax reform process his Republican leaders were pursuing constituted regular order in his eyes, he said, “I just picked up the newspaper today and they’ve made a huge change. Every day there seems to be – no, it’s not [regular order],” according to a report by Axios. Asked later if he thought the tax bill could get back on track, he added, “I have no idea, but I’m insisting on regular order.”
McConnell’s already razor-slim 52-48 Republican majority could shrink further if embattled former judge and accused child molester and sexual predator Roy Moore loses his bid to fill Alabama’s vacant senate seat to Democrat Doug Jones. With or without Moore, the Republican tax overhaul fantasy would still be just one vote away from total collapse if McCain follows through on his threat,