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GOP gears up for intense tax battle as Senate debuts plan

Republicans pushed ahead on their plan for a tax overhaul, with two major developments. The House Ways and Means Committee passed its sweeping tax bill, while the Senate released their own version. Lisa Desjardins sits down with Judy Woodruff to discuss how the two bills compare, which GOP senators aren’t yet convinced and how Democrats are reacting.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And now to the tax battle, a centerpiece of President Trump’s economic agenda.

    Republicans pushed ahead today on two fronts.

    Lisa Desjardins reports.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    At the Capitol, a kind of starting bell, or gavel, for one of the largest fiscal and pocketbook fights in modern U.S. history.

  • Rep. Devin Nunes:

    This is as close to fixing the tax code as we can possibly get.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    As the House Ways and Means Committee passed its sweeping tax overhaul.

  • Rep. Kevin Brady:

    The bill is passed. The committee is adjourned.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    And GOP senators released their outline.

  • Man:

    Today, we get to make a big difference.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That as Democrats decried the GOP plans as rush jobs.

  • Rep. Sander Levin:

    You are desperate. You have failed to pass anything of substance, anything.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    First, in the House, Republicans have made a few changes — restoring a tax credit for adoptions to please social conservatives, and adding a new tax on large piles of foreign profits held by U.S. companies to help the bill’s bottom line.

    Democrats stressed the bill would still bring red ink.

  • Rep. Mike Thompson:

    We know that if this were to become law, our national debt would grow by $2.3 trillion. We know that homeowners in many states across this great nation would lose.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    But House Speaker Paul Ryan pushed the GOP mantra, that borrowing for tax cuts is worth it to try to grow the economy.

  • Rep. Paul Ryan:

    We’re actually letting people keep more of their own money. We’re cleaning up the loopholes in the tax code and having fairer tax system, so we’re going to have faster economic growth, bigger paychecks, fairer taxes.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    As the House bill moves forward, though, it faces its next challenge from Republicans in the Senate. Late today, they unveiled their own plan, with some key differences from the House version.

    For individuals, senators would have seven tax brackets, compared with four in the House bill. And senators wouldn’t fully repeal the estate tax. Instead, they would double the amounts that would be exempt to more than $10 million per individual.

    Another big one, affecting high-cost states like New York or California. The Senate plan would totally repeal all deductions on state and local taxes. The House would allow a $10,000 property tax break. But the Senate would keep the home mortgage deduction as it is now, helping some new homeowners in those states.

  • Sen. Tim Scott:

    This is truly a good day.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Most Senate Republicans came out embracing the plan.

  • Sen. Tim Scott:

    Tax reform is not about numbers. Tax reform is about everyday Americans be able to keep more of their hard-earned money.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    But there is some doubt, especially about that red ink. Arizona’s Jeff Flake was asked if the plan helps the middle class.

  • Sen. Jeff Flake:

    I think it helps. I do. But nobody’s going to be helped if we just balloon the deficit.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    And the Senate is going to be the big battle.

    You know the Senate can only lose two Republican votes, Republicans can, and get this plan passed. But Senator Flake isn’t the only one who raised questions. Today, Senator Ron Johnson told “NewsHour” that his problems with some of the business provisions have still not been revolved.

    And, in addition, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski said she’s still looking at the bill. She’s not a yes yet.

    But, Judy, one thing we know Murkowski probably likes, an addition to the Senate bill, they will include a provision allowing drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, something Murkowski has wanted, but is highly debated.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, Lisa, given all that, what does it look like? Where does this go from here?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    All right, this is a time to really pay attention, because next week we expect the House to take its final vote or its vote on its plan.

    And then the week after Thanksgiving, the end of November, the Senate is expected to vote. That’s what John Cornyn told me and a few other reporters. So, then those two versions will come together in December in a very intense couple of weeks at the beginning of that month, Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So a very fast timetable.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Very fast, that’s right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Lisa Desjardins, reporting from the Capitol, thanks.

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