The House passed its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to much fanfare on Thursday, and the Senate Finance Committee followed suit several hours later, setting up a vote on the legislation by the full chamber sometime after Thanksgiving.
But even as Republicans celebrated their “historic moment,” as Sen. Orrin Hatch put it, there were already signs of bumps ahead, with a number of GOP senators expressing concerns about the legislation. At least four senators have discussed opposing the legislation because it would add about $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit over 10 years, Time reported.
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Since Senate Republicans can afford to lose only two of their party members, assuming all Democrats oppose the bill, these are the players to watch as negotiations continue in the days ahead:
Sen. Ron Johnson: The Wisconsin Republican announced on Wednesday that he couldn’t support the bill as written because he feels it benefits small businesses less than large corporations. “Party leaders say they want to address Johnson’s concerns, but admit it will be difficult,” Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur reported Friday.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski: She said she believes Congress must pass a bill to stabilize the health care market before it pushes through the tax-cut plan that would repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate. The goal of pairing the two bills is to keep premiums from rising as a result the mandate repeal, which would allow millions of presumably healthier Americans to opt out of the insurance market, driving up prices for those who remain. But the Obamacare stabilization bill may be a tough sell with many House Republicans.
Sen. Susan Collins: She’s expressed concern before about the effects of eliminating the individual mandate and was one of three GOP senators who scuttled Obamacare repeal efforts earlier this year.
Sens. Jerry Moran and Mike Lee: Both have indicated that the expiration of individual tax cuts could be a problem. "I would say the individual tax changes should be treated similarly to corporate tax changes as far as their permanency," Moran said. Lee is said to be still examining the issue.
Sen. John McCain: He voted against the Obamacare repeal because it didn’t follow the “regular order” for legislation. But he issued a statement Friday applauding the Senate Finance Committee for its tax vote and for its four-day markup process, adding “I am hopeful that when we return from the Thanksgiving recess to consider tax reform on the Senate floor, we will see this process continue, with both sides of the aisle having sufficient opportunity to debate the merits of tax reform and offer amendments."
Sen. Ted Cruz: The Texas conservative has said that “tax reform needs to cut taxes for everybody,” but the Senate plan would end up raising taxes on many low- and middle-income households.
Sens. Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, James Lankford: All have voiced concerns about the deficit-raising effects of the tax bill and gimmicks being used to hide the real costs of the legislation. Corker and Flake aren’t seeking re-election, giving them some more room to buck party leaders. “The deficit hawks’ criticisms could be the hardest to address, since the Republican leaders are already struggling to find ways to pay for tax cuts in the bill,” Time’s Nash Jenkins wrote Thursday.