As Republicans in Congress continue their campaign to push various tax reforms through the legislature as swiftly and efficiently as possible, various hiccups along the way have kept them from being able to accomplish this task. Most recently, the House voted in favor of a massive $1.5 trillion tax bill that would dramatically reduce tax rates on corporations, providing an array of breaks and benefits for private entities.
Despite having passed the House with ease, Senate Democrats have cried foul to the chamber’s parliamentarian that various provisions inherent in the tax bill are contradictory to the rules of the Senate, requiring a second vote that will take place on Wednesday. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s office claimed in a statement that the GOP expects, “Senate Democrats to insist on a Byrd Point of Order on the Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 1, which is likely to be sustained,” creating the circumstance for a follow up vote to take place to clear the bill for the President’s signature.
Senate Democrats challenged the bill on the grounds that it violated the Byrd Rule, a reconciliation process that allows lawmakers to pass proposed legislation through a simple majority. Democrats claimed that this violation would have been utilized by Republicans to avoid a potential Democratic filibuster, if the circumstance was to arise.
A spokesperson from the House Ways and Means Committee cited two specific provisions revolving around educational factors, that would be removed from the bill. The first, includes that of 529 savings accounts currently used for college tuition, to instead be reallocated to finance home schooling efforts. The second provision concerns an exemption for universities with fewer than 500 tuition-paying students, allowing these institutions to forgo paying the endowment excise tax.
The ruling made by the chamber parliamentarian allows Democrats to remove these provisions from the tax bill, unless Senate Republicans are able to amass 60 votes in favor of their legislation. However, the chances of doing so are highly unlikely, as it would require winning over the votes of at least eight Democratic Senators.
Democratic lawmakers have been quick to call out the exploitative and negligent tax reforms promoted by the GOP, and this most recent revelation is no different. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) claimed that today’s ruling was just the latest example of how irresponsible and one-sided the GOP tax scams inherently are, benefiting the wealthy at the expense of middle-class American families.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) December 19, 2017
Other Senate lawmakers including Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) also seized on the ruling to point out the realities of the GOP tax plan as being a dash to provide their billionaire campaign contributors with a plethora of tax breaks and exemptions, rather than doing right by their constituents.
In the mad dash to provide tax breaks for their billionaire campaign contributors, my Republican colleagues forgot to comply with the rules of the Senate. https://t.co/6FRpAlCh3R
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 19, 2017
The louder Americans protested, the faster Republicans raced to pass a #GOPTaxScam that will hike taxes on over 1/2 the middle class, AND leave 13 million Americans uninsured & increase premiums on millions more.
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) December 19, 2017
The #GOPTaxScam = tax hikes on middle-class families, higher health care premiums, 13 million more Americans uninsured, and at least $1 trillion added to our national debt. For what? Tax cuts for billionaires & corporations. pic.twitter.com/MoPy7ePv9c
— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) December 20, 2017
As Congressional Democrats continue to rally against the evidently detrimental tax plan, pointing out such discrepancies as seen today are crucial to slowing the momentum that the GOP has enjoyed. Although the numbers remain stacked in favor of the passage of the tax reforms, rectifying any and all of the illegitimate provisions within the GOP tax plan remains a priority for Democratic lawmakers, as they attempt to fight for the interests of middle-class and impoverished American families.
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