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These GOP Senators are Wavering on the Tax Bill

by Countable | 11.30.17

Will they or won’t they pass the tax policy bill? With 52 Republicans in the Senate, the chamber can only afford to lose two votes. Here are the 10 senators who could tank the White House-backed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona

UPDATED - November, 30, 2017, 12:40 P.M.: After initially wavering (see below), Sen. McCain said on Thursday that he will support the GOP tax plan.

"After careful thought and consideration, I have decided to support the Senate tax reform bill. I believe this legislation, though far from perfect, would enhance American competitiveness, boost the economy, and provide long overdue tax relief for middle class families," McCain said in a statement.

The Arizona senator continued:

"For months, I have called for a return to regular order, and I am pleased that this important bill was considered through the normal legislative processes, with several hearings and a thorough mark-up in the Senate Finance Committee during which more than 350 amendments were filed and 69 received a vote."

Countable's original reporting appears below.

McCain’s possible “no” vote could come from multiple sources. He voted against President Bush’s tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 because he believed they favored the wealthy and would add to the deficit (“Guess what?” he’s said. “I was r ight.”)

McCain was also another “no” vote on the Obamacare skinny repeal.

And while he praised the Senate Finance Committee’s for passing the bill through “regular order,” he’s also complained the bill was changing too frequently. Asked by reporters if he liked the tax-reform process, he said, “Oh, I don't know. It changes every day."

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin

Johnson was the first senator to publicly declare a “no” vote: he said he didn’t like the process the Senate was using to advance the bill, and how TCJA benefitted large multinational corporations at the expense of smaller, pass-through businesses (these are businesses that “pass-through” their earnings to the individual, who then declares that business on their personal income tax returns).

"Unfortunately, neither the House nor Senate bill provide fair treatment, so I do not support either in their current versions,"Johnson said. "I do, however, look forward to working with my colleagues to address the disparity so I can support the final version."

The Washington Post reported that GOP leaders are trying to amend the pass-throughs refund to garner Johnson’s support. However, Johnson did vote to advance the bill out of committee on Tuesday, giving his fellow Republicans hope.

Sen. Steve Daines of Montana

Daines said he shares the same pass-through business concerns as Johnson. However, he tweeted on Monday:

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine

Collins, who voted against repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), has said she won’t support any tax bill that repeals the health insurance mandate – which, at present, the TCJA does. She also isn’t a fan of how the bill only makes individual tax cuts temporary.

However, following a Tuesday lunch between Republican Senators and the President, Collins said she had “good discussions” with Trump and fellow legislatures and that “productive negotiations” continue.

“Many of these discussions have focused on my proposals to help middle-income families, including allowing a deduction for property taxes and helping to lower insurance premiums on the individual market to offset any increases that might result from repealing the individual mandate,” Collins said in a statement.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska

Murkowski, like Collins, voted against the Obamacare “skinny repeal.” She’s against the TCJA’s repeal of the Obamacare mandate and has indicated that she won’t support the tax bill unless the Senate passes a separate bill to help stabilize the individual health insurance market.

However, Murkowski may support the TCJA because it’s combined with a bill that would open up Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling — something her father, a former GOP senator and governor, also advocated for.

Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee

Corker, who is not seeking re-election, and has publicly feuded with President Donald Trump, said that “[if] we are adding one penny to the deficit, I’m not going to be for it.” According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimate, the TCJA would increase the deficit by $1.4 trillion over the next ten years.

Still, the Tennessee Republican did offer a way to win his vote: the TCJA is expected to offset that $1.4 trillion deficit by sparking economic growth. Corker wants a “backstop” in place if that economic boost doesn’t grow the economy enough to cover the deficit.

"What several of us have asked for is a backstop or trigger in that event we don't meet the projections that have been laid out — since we're not going to score it — that we have a backstop. And so that's what we've been working on throughout the weekend and feverishly today," Corker told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

However, on Tuesday, Corker tweeted:

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona

Flake, like Corker, is a deficit hawk who is retiring at the end of his current term. In early November, the Arizona senator tweeted:

He followed up this tweet in a statement last week, saying:

“I remain concerned over how the current tax reform proposals will grow the already staggering national debt by opting for short-term fixes while ignoring long-term problems for taxpayers and the economy.”

Also like Corker, Flake has been a vocal critic of the President. Indeed, the President responded to Flake, tweeting:

Flake’s spokesperson told Reuters that “How he votes on it will have nothing to do with the President.”

Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma

Lankford echoes Corker’s requirement that the TCJA needs a backup plan to pay for the deficit if the economic-growth predictions don’t pan out. He’s been working with the Senate Finance Committee to create that “what if” plan.

"What if the growth estimates don't hit 0.4%? What happens? What should happen in the tax code to make adjustments? Every economist is guessing," he said at a Capitol news conference on Monday. "We should build in the 'what if.' What if this doesn't work? What changes might be needed in the tax code in the days ahead to be able to adjust in what scenario? So if the revenues aren't coming in, should the rates change? All of those are in conversation."

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida

On Monday, the once-presidential candidate told reporters that he hasn’t yet decided how he’ll vote. He’s continued voicing his concerns about the child tax credit, tweeting on Tuesday:

Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas

During a town hall on November 25, Moran voiced his concerns about the tax reform bill adding to the deficit and its repeal of the Obamacare individual-coverage mandate.

"We don't want to increase the debt and deficit as a result of tax cuts,” Moran said at the town hall. “My goal is to find out which taxes you cut can actually help create more jobs, better jobs, higher-paying jobs … and which ones don't do that. Not all of them do that."

What do you think?'

Are your senators on this list? Do you agree with them? Disagree? Either way, hit Take Action and let them know. Or let your senators know how you want them to vote. Then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

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(184)
  • Rebecca
    11/30/2017
    ···

    The GOP senators who are reported to be “wavering” on the tax bill are exhibiting the leadership America needs. The tax bill is horrendous. The only people who will make out well from it are the ultra-wealthy. Middle and working class people like my family? We will be stuck holding the bill for this giveaway to corporations and the rich.

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  • Lori
    11/30/2017
    ···

    Please vote NO on this tax bill. It’s not reform, it’s destruction of our American way of life. If you’re wavering, it means your conscience is telling you this bill is wrong for America. This isn’t about party; it’s about doing right by hardworking Americans. Please vote NO on the tax bill and be the hero America so desperately needs!!

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  • Kate
    11/30/2017
    ···

    The tax plan cannot pass. It will put us further into debt on the backs of the middle class, what little of it that’s left.

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  • Jane
    11/30/2017
    ···

    We need tax reform that benefits all Americans, not just the wealthy and not at the expense of services that provide for our most vulnerable or which take away benefits from our senior citizens. Vote no on this kind of tax reform. Do the real work.

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  • Matt
    11/30/2017
    ···

    I urge my representatives to rally and put all kinds of pressure and support on the GOP to stop this crazy tax bill with 60% of the cuts going to wealthy Americans. This is absurd. The tax breaks they claim for the middle class are only temporary and increases our debt by 1.4 Trillion. This cannot happen. Please do the People’s work for the people, not the benefit of corporations and the wealthiest Americans. Enough already. Get to work!

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  • Maryann
    11/30/2017
    ···

    No to tax bill that will be windfall for wealthy and corporations.

    Like (19)
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  • Ronda
    11/30/2017
    ···

    Vote NO on the tax bill. It will raise taxes on the poor and middle class to reward the wealthy. It will not stimulate the economy and will destroy access to healthcare. It also will dismantle Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid. Don’t hurt almost everyone in America simply to benefit your donors. That’s what this bill does. It’s morally wrong and frankly, economically stupid. It’s a lose - lose. Which, ironically, is exactly what will happen to your congressional seat if you vote for it.

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  • JMosca
    11/30/2017
    ···

    Please oppose this tax bill. It only serves to make the rich richer and will not stimulate growth. It will put the vast majority of Americans in a more difficult position financially

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  • KansasTamale
    11/30/2017
    ···

    These senators who are wavering are showing respect for the American people & acting like real congressmen. This bill is going to take the US right back to the 2007 recession, IF WE ARE LUCKY, if not worse the 1939s depression. Only the Uber rich are going to benefit from this bill & the deficit & debt are going to get much worse just as it did in Kansas when Brownback & Kobach tried the experiment there. If it doesn’t work on a small scale, how in the heck is it supposed to work on the federal government scale?? It won’t. And raising the % of taxes in the poor from 10 ti 12%??? That could mean lots more people without housing or food. We are already one of the worst countries with hungry families. It’s ridiculous. Where are the good paying jobs Trump promised?? No jobs will be created from this tax cut for the rich. This bull needs bipartisan work and less Hurry to pass anything.

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  • RadicalModerate
    11/30/2017
    ···

    Sunset my “tax cut”, but corporations who make opiates get tax cuts forever? It’s because corporations vote with their blood money, and the people’s votes are either not counted or bought with propaganda on Facebook.

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  • Donna
    11/30/2017
    ···

    Absolutely vote NO on the tax scam! Provisions in there have no place, such as fetal personhood; get rid of it. No to arctic drilling ( to appease and buy Murkowski’s vote) do not eliminate student loan deductions, state and local tax deductions , charitable contributions, mortgage, medical deductions! Indivisible groups are individuals are watching how you vote.

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  • Donna
    11/30/2017
    ···

    You know it is a bad deal for the lower and middle class members of our society when the liar-in-chief says he will not benefit -- believe me. It is hard to know exactly how much he will benefit because he refuses to release any of his tax returns. The AMT and Estate tax repeals alone will make him and his family money. My Republican Senator (Cory Gardner) is not on this list. He is on the Budget Committee and released a lovely, completely false statement following the party line. I don't know if he honestly believes this debacle will "increase wages, grow the economy, create jobs, and benefit hardworking Coloradans" as his press release states. I have requested, on multiple occasions, the documentation this Senate has used to back up these claims. No surprise, but I have not gotten any response. Every expert economist has said the wealthy are the benefactors of this bill. Every lower and middle class citizen should not be surprised. The wealthy always take care of their own. We can only hope three names on this list show up in the NAY column when this atrocity comes up for a vote. Only that will restore my faith in our government.

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  • Michael
    11/30/2017
    ···

    Experiments with trickle down economics have proved disastrous. This tax plan is a thinly veiled attempt to create an oligarchy that will undermine our democracy. Vote NO!

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  • Gerald
    12/01/2017
    ···

    The vote will be 52-48 and will pass. Confetti will drop, victory will be declared, Trump will crow, and stocks will rise. In a small town, a wife wakes her husband up to start work at 5AM. She will get their two kids up in two hours and ready for school. After, she will walk to McDonalds and work at the drive through until the kids come home. Her husband hasn’t had a raise in five years. They will lose their insurance if the rates increase. They all have dinner together, and the kids talk about what they want for Christmas but the parents can’t afford most items. The kids go to bed, and the parents watch the news. Tax cuts pass...They already know that Trump will receive more money just from the estate tax reduction than they and their children will earn in a lifetime. They go to bed worried about their son’s cough, turn the thermostat down because they are already behind on their heating bill. They get up the next day and just try and get through it. They wait to see the great big Christmas gift in their paychecks from the tax cuts...only it never arrives. It all went to the corporations and people the wealthy. Too bad. Maybe next time.

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  • Shari
    11/30/2017
    ···

    This tax scam is an abomination. The meager cuts for lower income brackets are just meant to look good but go away while the upper income gets a big cut. That is just on the surface, what they don’t want to tell you is that Medicare and Medicaid are being cut which will cost you more in premiums. Oops, now you are paying more. That doesn’t even take into consideration the deductions they are cutting- SALT, some mortgage, higher education, etc. This is expected to explode the deficit by 1.4 trillion dollars and kick up to 30million people off of health care. When the deficit explodes they will then cut Medicare, Medicaid and social security which was their intent in the first place. Yore no on this scam!

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  • Regina
    12/01/2017
    ···

    The present tax plan will further divide our nation. It will not tear it in half but instead further separate the wealthiest from the majority of this nation. Giving the wealthiest tax breaks while taking away tax credits away from educators and those attending college is disgraceful. Our country has been prestigious across the world, not because of our wealth but because of how we have primarily chosen to spend it, to help those with less. BE PATRIOTIC AND STAND FOR OUR PLEDGE “With liberty and justice for ALL (not All who can afford it). THANK YOU

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  • Debi
    11/30/2017
    ···

    TALK WITH DEMOCRATS!! Get rid of Trump!!!

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  • Andrew
    11/30/2017
    ···

    I know you will not no. Yet, this is the time to pursued other Senators to vote no. All we need is three to vote no. The American people will loose on this tax plan and in-debt our children for years to come. Big business is doing just fine.

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  • Frank
    11/30/2017
    ···

    Tax Bill, it appears that the GOP is trying to become the party of 1917 when it should be thinking of being the party of 2117. Vote no on legislation that carries us back to the era of the robber baron super rich elite supremacist.

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  • Katharine
    11/30/2017
    ···

    I make less than 75,000 a year. How can you sleep at night knowing you are raising my taxes to give tax breaks to the wealthy and to corporations?!

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