U.S. President Donald Trump and key Republican senators were meeting Monday in a new push to advance Senate legislation to overhaul the country’s complex tax laws.
The president was having lunch with some members of the Senate Finance Committee ahead of what was expected to be a series of contentious votes in the full Senate later in the week over proposed changes to the labyrinth U.S. tax code. The tax measure could cut the country’s corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and trim taxes for millions of individual American taxpayers, depending on their specific financial circumstances.
In a Twitter comment, Trump said the legislation “is coming along very well, great support. With just a few changes, some mathematical, the middle class and job producers can get even more in actual dollars and savings.” He said a proposal planned for taxation affecting small businesses would become “simpler and really works well!”
But whether Trump’s White House push for the legislation will be enough to win approval is uncertain. The changes, if adopted, would be the biggest U.S. tax overhaul in three decades.
Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate, meaning they can only lose two dissenters, with Vice President Mike Pence poised to vote for the changes in the event of a 50-50 tie. No Democrats have announced their support for the measure and several Republican senators have voiced objections to specific provisions, leaving their eventual support in doubt.
The House of Representatives has already approved its version of the tax overhaul, but it differs in several ways from the Senate plan. If the Senate approves its proposal, the two chambers would have to reach an accord before final votes on an identical measure and then send it to Trump for his signature.
In another tweet as he returned to Washington from his Thanksgiving holiday at his oceanfront resort along the Atlantic Ocean in Florida, Trump said, “Senate Republicans will hopefully come through for all of us. The Tax Cut Bill is getting better and better. The end result will be great for ALL!”
The independent Congressional Budget Office concluded in a new report Sunday that the Senate version of the tax changes would give substantial cuts and benefits to those who earn more than $100,000 a year, while the country’s poorest taxpayers would be worse off.
Ten months into his presidency, Trump is looking for passage of his first significant piece of legislation. He came close months ago to overhauling the health care policies championed by former President Barack Obama, but Senate Democrats uniformly opposed dismantling the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, as did a handful of Republicans, leaving Trump short of the votes he needed.