Corker gets requested revision and votes for Senate GOP tax bill; Alexander involved with Obamacare deal

The Senate Budget Committee voted to advance the GOP tax reform bill on Tuesday on a party-line vote, with both Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) backing the measure a day after threatening to withhold their support, reports Politico.  That critical vote came after President Donald Trump came to Capitol Hill to rally the troops in the tax battle.

Johnson voted for the tax bill after a back-and-forth with Trump during the lunch, according to multiple sources, over the Wisconsin Republican’s main concern: that the proposal currently gives more benefits to corporations than to businesses that pay taxes through the individual system.

… Corker, one of the fiscal hawks concerned about the deficit impact of tax cuts, said he was satisfied with details for a “trigger” to reverse tax cuts if economic growth fell short of projections in years to come. He expects details to be released Thursday.

“I’ve got details but I want to get it all sort of put to bed,” before disclosing them, he told reporters. “It’s an agreement in principle, a very strong agreement, with [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell, with [the] Finance Committee, and of course the White House has been in the midst of all this too.”

The agreement was primarily brokered between Corker and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), a member of the tax-writing Finance Committee, according to one GOP source. The two key lawmakers struck an agreement in September on the overall price tag for the Senate plan, $1.5 trillion.

Corker has also been working on the trigger idea with Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.).

Corker said he believed there was a viable workaround if a trigger violated budget rules of the Senate that Republicans plan to use to pass their tax bill along party lines.

… The tax bill includes a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate that everyone carry health insurance, and Collins told reporters Tuesday afternoon that Trump committed to backing a stabilization measure from Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), as well as a bill from her and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) to protect pre-existing conditions and use high-risk pools.

The commitments from the president came in a separate meeting with Collins, Alexander and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Collins said.

… Corker and other fiscal hawks have become increasingly vocal about their concerns that the bill might fall short of paying for itself, as its chief backers claim.

“If we could take the entire individual side of this, throw it in the trash can and take it directly to the incinerator, I would be thrilled,” Corker said on CNBC. “But I’m willing to swallow the individual side, which to me is not what it needs to be, to get the business side as long as we’re not increasing deficits.”

And the addition of the health care battle has further complicated matters. Top Democratic senators have said that every member of their 48-person caucus supports the stabilization measure, but that calculus is sure to change if Republicans are using the Alexander-Murray deal to try and mitigate the impact of repealing the individual mandate.

The Corker press release statement:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, today released the following statement after voting to advance tax reform legislation to the Senate floor for consideration.

“After agreeing in principle with Senate leadership, members of the finance committee, and the administration on a trigger mechanism to ensure greater fiscal responsibility should economic growth estimates not be realized, I voted today to advance this important piece of legislation,” said Corker. “While we are still working to finalize the details, I am encouraged by our discussions.”

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