The Tax Scam Passed the Senate. What Now?
Republicans have jammed the Trump Tax Scam through the Senate, by a vote of 51-49. It’s hard to imagine how this bill could be worse: not only does it give massive tax cuts to the rich and corporations, it also allows drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, exacerbates growing inequality, and adds $1 trillion to the deficit—which will force deep cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security down the road.
But the Tax Scam is not yet law. Republicans have one more vote in both the House and Senate on what’s called “the conference report.” They need to attend to this all while trying to fund the government. Here’s what comes next.
“GOING TO CONFERENCE”
Since the House and Senate passed different versions of the Tax Scam, Republicans have to merge them together by “going to conference.” This is where members of the House and Senate are appointed to a conference committee. The goal is to work out the differences between the bills and put them together into one “conference report” which is then voted on by both the House and Senate (expected late the week of December 11).
There are a number of important differences between the two bills, first and foremost the repeal of the individual mandate that was included in the Senate version but not the House. There are also differences between the individual tax rates, the estate tax, and the alternative minimum tax. Senate Republicans made so many mistakes in a midnight rush to get their bill through, that one of the primary tasks of their Conference Committee is to clean up serious problems with corporate tax provisions.
SOME SENATORS ARE HOLDING OUT
There is no guarantee that members of Congress that voted yes on the Tax Scam the first time around will agree to vote yes on the final conference report. Most importantly, Senator Collins and Senator Flake traded their vote on the Tax Scam in exchange for guarantees that other issues would be addressed.
Senator Collins said she wants to see passage of two health care market stabilization measures—the Alexander-Murray and Collins-Nelson bills—before she takes a final yes vote. The White House, however, is not pushing for either of those bills to become law. (Definitely worth noting that Alexander-Murray is NO substitute for repealing the individual mandate.)
Senator Flake said he would vote for the Tax Scam as long as there was ongoing “conversation” about the DREAM Act. However, several other members in Republican leadership have said they don’t want to see DREAM addressed before the end of the year, which would seem to violate Senator Flake’s condition for his yes vote.
NO JONES, NO VOTE
On top of the Senators who were already holding out, voters in Alabama threw a wrench into the Republicans' plans by electing Democrat Doug Jones to be their next Senator on December 12. Jones won't be seated until early January. The people of Alabama deserve to have their duly-elected Senator vote on the Tax Scam, not a lame duck Senator appointed by a Governor that resigned in disgrace.
However, the Republicans are steaming ahead with the Tax Scam before Doug Jones can be seated. That is the opposite of the approach taken by Democrats when Republican Scott Brown won a surprising special election victory in deep blue Massachusetts in 2010. Then, leading Democrats —including President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid—agreed that they should hold off on taking any votes on the Affordable Care Act until Senator Brown could be seated.
This is just another slap in the face for the American people, who overwhelmingly oppose the Tax Scam. Perhaps Mitch McConnell should take his own advice from 2010, when he said of Democrats that: "I think the majority's gotten the message--no more gamesmanship, no more lack of transparency..." You can use our call script to tell your Senator that they should should refuse to cast a final vote on the Tax Scam “conference report” until Doug Jones is seated.
TAXES, GOVERNMENT FUNDING, AND DREAM
At this point, we expect to see a vote in the House on the conference report sometime the week of December 18—with Monday or Tuesday being the likeliest days. The Senate would follow suit shortly after that.
With so much going on before the end of the year, our attention needs to be on the tax bill AND holding Democrats to their commitment to secure inclusion of the DREAM Act in the December 22 funding bill. Democrats have promised for three months that they will use their leverage on the December funding bill to get the DREAM Act done. Now it’s time for them to deliver. Read more and find out how you can fight alongside Dreamers at www.dreamerpledge.org.