With the Republican tax “reform” bill’s future hanging in the balance, a second Republican Senator has indicated that he will vote against the bill as it’s currently drafted. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) has echoed the concerns of Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) on how the bill will treat small businesses in comparison to huge multi-national corporations.
According to The Hill:
“Senator Daines has concerns with how the tax bill looks at main street versus large corporations,” an aide told The Hill. “The Senator wants changes to the tax cut bill that ensure main street businesses are not put at a competitive disadvantage against large corporations.” The aide said the senator “remains optimistic and is continuing to work with colleagues” on changes.
With negotiations on the final language of the bill still ongoing, the two Senators can still change their minds if their concerns are addressed in subsequent revisions. However, with time rapidly slipping away before the deadline to be able to pass the bill with just a simple majority vote due to Senate budget reconciliation rules, and with seven other Senators reportedly still on the fence over the bill, Republicans are struggling to pass their signature tax legislation against widespread public displeasure with its provisions favoring the ultra-wealthy and big businesses over the vast majority of individuals and small businesses.
Among the legislators considered still undecided are noted deficit hawks Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) and Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), both of whom have announced that they will not be seeking reelection and thus are less subject to threats of loss of campaign financing from rich donors. Speculation has it that their relative immunity to pressure from outside interests will allow them to vote their consciences against the bill which has been estimated to raise the national debt by over $1.4 trillion over ten years and place at least some of the control our nation’s future in the hands of the foreign lenders who purchase U.S. debt.
Also expressing concern about the level of debt the bill would enable is Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who has already demonstrated his willingness to buck the wishes of senior Republican leaders with his no vote on the failed Obamacare repeal and who, with a diagnosis of a type of brain cancer that is predictably terminal, also has little to lose by voting his conscience. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), James Lankford (R-OK), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) are the other Republican Senators who have not yet indicated whether they plan to vote for the bill.
With Senate leadership continuing to make amendments to the bill amidst wide-spread horse trading for votes, it’s difficult to predict the outcome before the final draft is presented to the Senate for a final vote, but the balancing act that Republicans must attempt is treacherous. Every provision added to attract the vote of one Senator can lose the vote of another.
In addition, with rules in place over the amount the bill can raise the deficit without requiring that it need 60 votes to pass instead of a simple majority, the complex math calculations required each time a change is made to the legislation eat up time that brings the deadline to successfully pass the bill ever closer.
Still, with only one no vote needed for the tax bill to go down in flames as the second major Republican legislative initiative in a row to fail, President Trump, Mitch McConnell and other senior members of the Republican congressional leadership must be getting very nervous at this point.