President Trump met with Republican Senators today and convinced some holdouts to get on board with the tax bill. After the meeting, the bill cleared the Senate Budget Committee on a party-line vote, 12-11. From CNN:
With the fate of the tax bill in the balance, Trump addressed a closed-door meeting of Republican senators, urging them to unite to secure a political win that would finally deliver on the GOP’s monopoly on power and at last give him a genuine major legislative victory…
“I think it’s going to pass and it’s going to be very popular,” Trump said.
Moments after he left the Capitol, two key Republican senators on the Budget Committee, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Bob Corker of Tennessee, who had been holding out for more concessions to meet their different concerns about the measure, told CNN they would vote for it.
So did Trump actually get this done or is he just taking credit for something Senate Republicans are putting together on their own? According to CNN, Trump actually made a difference today:
Sources told CNN that the President had an extended back-and-forth with Johnson during the luncheon. And South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters that Trump went out of his way to address concerns of another wavering senator, Maine’s Susan Collins, saying he would back a deal on paying Obamacare subsidies and an expanded property tax deduction under the tax reform measure in return for her vote.
With Senator Murkowski already announcing she would vote for the bill with the Individual Mandate repeal included, Sen. Collins is the main hold out on that issue. She is asking for the passage of Alexander-Murray, which would resume cost-sharing reimbursements to insurers, to offset the impact of repealing the mandate. Politico has a bit more on the President’s meeting with Collins:
The commitments from the president came in a separate meeting with Collins, Alexander and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Collins said.
“I think they’re eager to help me get to ‘yes,’” she said.
The moderate senator also said in an interview earlier Tuesday that she wants the top individual tax rate to remain at the current 39.6 percent, restore the state and local tax deduction on property taxes to aid those in high-tax states, and make the child care tax credit refundable “so it would help lower-income working families.”
That’s quite a wish list for one Senator but, let’s face it, the GOP can’t afford another fiasco in which several versions of the tax bill go down in defeat as we saw earlier this year with Obamacare repeal. After the special elections we saw earlier this month, it’s not just Trump that needs a win. The GOP as a whole has got to have something to show for an entire year in which they have the White House and majorities in both chambers.
We’re still not there yet but even CNN’s Chris Cillizza agrees this is a much-needed win, one that gives Trump the big ‘M’:
On Tuesday afternoon, Trump won one — or, at the very least, took a major step in the right direction toward securing the first real legislative accomplishment of his first year.
That win came in the form of Trump’s tax cuts plan clearing the Senate Budget Committee, a prospect that seemed somewhat dicey even as the day began…
…this was a hurdle. And Trump cleared it. And every time you clear a hurdle in Congress, you gain the most precious commodity on Capitol Hill: Momentum.
Mitch McConnell hopes to hold a vote in the full Senate later this week.