What the heck is going on with that big tax bill Senate Republicans have been talking about?

It looked like Senate Republicans would be able to pass it – then things hit a bump Thursday.
Author:
Publish date:
Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday.

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday.

It's been all about taxes for Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate recently. In the past couple of weeks, the party had put together a new tax bill that "appeared to be cruising to victory," the New York Times wrote.

That's no longer the case after things hit a big bump Thursday. Here's a quick look at what's going on.

What is this tax bill about?

Senate Republicans have written what the Washington Post called "the largest change to the U.S. tax code in 30 years." Broadly speaking, the proposal would chop the corporate tax from 35 percent (one of the highest rates in the world) down to 20 percent.

Most individuals would also see a tax cut, with millionaires getting the biggest boost – but those cuts would all expire after 2025, the Washington Post notes.

The bill would also get rid of a host of tax deductions, and maybe wipe out the individual mandate (the Obamacare rule that says you have to buy health insurance, or pay a penalty) – the latter sparking a potentially huge shift in the health insurance industry.

What's going on with it right now?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (the top Republican in the chamber) and other GOP leadership had everything lined up to vote on this significant tax overhaul Thursday, The Hill explains.

That's what everyone was expecting, including Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who is against the bill.

But that plan went out the window, and they didn't vote Thursday.

OK, so what happened and why?

There's an issue with how the tax bill might impact the deficit.

The Joint Committee on Taxation did an analysis of what would happen if the bill were passed. As the New York Times reports, the committee found the bill would add $1 trillion to the national deficit over the next decade.

This was not great news for Republicans, who had argued the economic growth sparked by these widespread tax cuts would generate enough revenue to cover the initial loss from the cuts themselves, the New York Times explains.

It has left Republican leaders scrambling.

A handful of GOP senators have serious concern about adding to the deficit, CNN reports. That includes Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who has consistently said he won't vote for anything that increases the deficit.

There's also worry from Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson and Arizona's Jeff Flake, The Hill says.

Republicans only have 52 seats in the Senate – so just to get a simple majority vote, no more than two party members can vote against it. (Unless a Democrat or left-leaning Independent flips, which doesn't seem likely.)

So now, McConnell and the leadership team have to quickly make changes to this massive bill that took weeks to put together, in hopes of appeasing the holdouts – while also not ticking off the current supporters, the Hill writes.

Are they going to vote on the bill?

The plan is to vote on the tax bill Friday morning.

How does the public generally feel about it?

FiveThirtyEight points out the Senate Republicans' tax bill is one of the most unpopular proposals since the '80s, with anywhere from a quarter to one-third of U.S. voters supporting it (depending on which survey you look at) and nearly half of voters against it.

One of the main concerns from skeptics? That it will benefit the rich more than the average American.

What about Minnesota's senators?

Minnesota's two senators are both Democrats. Neither have expressed any support for the bill.

Klobuchar took to Twitter to hammer home the $1 trillion figure early Friday.

Al Franken – trying to push forward despite allegations from six women that he inappropriately touched them – feels similarly, saying Thursday he's "looking forward to fighting this terrible tax bill," CNN's Ross Levitt tweeted.

Next Up

Related