What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Republicans rush to finalize tax overhaul as roadblocks loom

Republicans are racing to keep their promise of sending a final tax overhaul bill to the White House by Christmas. On Wednesday GOP lawmakers announced they reached a compromise in principle to bridge the House and Senate bills. But with only two votes to spare, Senate Republicans are facing health issues and holdouts. William Brangham reports on how the bill is shaping up.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    On Capitol Hill, House and Senate Republicans are rushing to finish their overhaul of the tax code, with the goal of holding a final vote next week.

    As our William Brangham reports, details of the compromise are still emerging, as are some potential roadblocks.

  • William Brangham:

    Congressional Republicans raced to keep their promise of sending a final tax overhaul bill to the White House by Christmas.

    House Speaker Paul Ryan-

  • Rep. Paul Ryan:

    This tax cut will means less of a paycheck going to Washington and more for the hardworking person who earned it.

  • William Brangham:

    Yesterday, GOP lawmakers announced they reached a compromise in principle to bridge the House and Senate bills. That clears the way for final votes on legislation that would cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over a decade.

  • President Donald Trump:

    It will be the largest tax cut in the history of our country.

  • William Brangham:

    Today, President Trump again championed the bill, which could be his first, major legislative victory.

  • President Donald Trump:

    I think we will get there. It will be in a very short period of time. It will be the greatest Christmas present that a lot of people have ever received.

  • William Brangham:

    Late changes to the bill include a corporate tax rate of 21 percent starting in 2018. That's a major reduction from the current rate of 35 percent. And for the richest Americans, a lowered top individual tax rate of 37 percent — that's down from the current rate of 39.6 percent.

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi lambasted the changes, charging that they tip the scale even more towards the wealthy.

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi:

    It's daylight robbery and at every iteration, the GOP tax scam becomes even more cowardly, outrageous, dishonest, brazen theft from middle class families.

  • William Brangham:

    The bill also reduces popular tax breaks like the ability to deduct state and local taxes. That deduction will be capped at $10,000, which can be split between property, income or sales tax.

    In a break from the House proposal, the revised bill would still let taxpayers claim a deduction for medical expenses, and expand it for two years.

    Other reported changes, the revised bill will repeal the Obamacare individual mandate, double the estate tax exemption and scale back the deductibility of mortgage interest allowed on loans up to $750,000.

    Still, there are some issues looming for Republicans. For one thing, the health of Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona. He's been diagnosed with brain cancer and is currently in the hospital.

    And there are some holdouts: Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee already voted against a Senate version because of the bill's impact on the federal deficit.

    And Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is threatening to vote against a bill unless it raises the child tax credit.

  • Sen. Marco Rubio:

    We'll see how it plays out. I want to support tax reform, it's important for the country, but I think this needs to be part of it.

  • William Brangham:

    The White House has vowed to work with him.

    Republicans can only afford to lose only two Senate votes.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I'm William Brangham.

Listen to this Segment

The Latest