By John Patrick Pullen
December 1, 2017

Several Republican senators have concerns over the GOP’s tax bill, so many that people are wondering ‘Will tax reform pass?’ Though the party sorely needs a legislative win in 2017, Donald Trump’s first year as president, pressure from the White House is not enough to guarantee victory.

However, with Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) saying he will back the GOP tax bill, the party has taken one step closer to passing the signature piece of legislation that will effect everything from corporate and individual taxes to entitlements and health care, as well as everyone in America.

So, what’s the hold up? These seven senators, to start. With so many moving pieces in this bill (and its amendments) everyone wants to make sure their concerns are addressed. Here’s where the holdouts currently stand:

Susan Collins (R-Maine)

One of the three senators who stymied changes to the nation’s healthcare system, Collins is making her tax reform decision contingent on restoring deductions for state and local taxes (SALT). Republicans’ removal of SALT taxes as a deductible rankled homeowners nationwide, especially in areas where property values are high, like urban areas and coastal states. The House bill allows for SALT deductions up to $10,000, but the Senate bill currently does not. Collins has penned an amendment, and it will likely be included in the Tax Reform’s upcoming vote-a-rama.

Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)

Described as one of the “deficit hawks” holding the bill back, Corker has called the federal debt “the greatest threat to our nation.” With the GOP tax reform’s proposed reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%, the deficit would increase by around $1.4 trillion over the next decade. Tax reform proponents say the money saved by companies will go back into jobs and increased salaries, negating any increase in the debt. But Corker remains unconvinced. He’s asking for a tax rate “trigger” that would increase corporate rates if the growth never materializes. It’s not yet clear if the undecided, retiring senator has gotten his wish.

Steve Daines (R-Mont.)

In the past couple of days, Daines has been in and out on voting for the Republican tax plan. A few days ago, Daines said he was a “no,” but on Wednesday he became a “yes,” at least procedurally:

Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)

Another retiring senator, Flake has nothing to lose by bucking his party, which he has been doing a lot recently. Another deficit hawk, Flake has said he likes the plan because it “would give tax relief in every bracket,” but like Corker, James Lankford, and Jerry Moran, he’s doubtful that the economic growth would follow.

There is also the matter of Flake’s ongoing feud with with President Trump. Trump treats Flake like a piñata on Twitter, and if you think that hasn’t stuck in the Arizona senator’s craw, just wait and see.

Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)

Johnson said two weeks ago he would oppose the Senate tax plan, but in Washington time, a fortnight can feel as far away as the Ice Age. But Johnson seems to have warmed to the plan, his disposition improving as small business deductions on pass-through taxes have increased to 20%. This is a big issue for people who run LLCs and S-Corps and have to claim business profits on their personal finances.

James Lankford, (R-Okla.)

Another deficit hawk, Lankford has been pushing hard for a performance trigger, or what he calls “backstops” and appears to have gotten what he’s asked for—at least in some version of the bill that will be floated on the floor.

Jerry Moran (R-Kan.)

Perhaps the key vote in the GOP’s tax reform effort is a man who’s been there before: Sen. Jerry Moran. That’s because the Republican bill has been compared to a 2012 bill by his state’s lawmakers to enact much of what the Republicans are proposing nationwide in 2017. And it didn’t work, reports the New York Times.

“I’m also cognizant of what people saw happen in Kansas.” Moran recently told voters in Clay Center, Kan. “There is plenty of conversation about Kansas in Washington, D.C.” His state’s voters are begging him to vote against the bill, reports The Kansas City Star. Also, concerned with the deficit, as is Corker, Flake, and Lankford, he’s certainly not a yes, yet.


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