WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans muscled the largest tax overhaul in 30 years through the Senate early Saturday, taking a big step toward giving President Donald Trump his first major legislative triumph after months of false starts and frustration on other fronts.
“Just what the country needs to get growing again,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in an interview after a final burst of negotiation closed in on a nearly $1.5 trillion package that impacts the breadth of American society.
He shrugged off polls finding scant public enthusiasm for the measure, saying the legislation would prove its worth. “Big bills are rarely popular,” he said. “You remember how unpopular ‘Obamacare’ was when it passed?”
Trump on Saturday tweeted his thanks to Senate and House Republicans as they now begin trying to reconcile differences in legislation passed by both chambers, a behind-closed-doors process that is expected to move swiftly. Trump is aiming to sign the tax package into law before Christmas. “Biggest Tax Bill and Tax Cuts in history just passed in the Senate,” he tweeted inaccurately. The overhaul is significant but far from the largest.
Presiding over the Senate, Vice President Mike Pence announced the 51-49 vote to applause from Republicans. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., was the only lawmaker to cross party lines, joining the Democrats in opposition. The measure focuses its tax reductions on businesses and higher-earning individuals, gives more modest breaks to others and offers the boldest rewrite of the nation’s tax system since 1986.
Republicans said the package would benefit people of all incomes and ignite the economy. Even an official projection of a $1 trillion, 10-year flood of deeper budget deficits couldn’t dissuade GOP senators from rallying behind the bill.