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Trump Visits Capitol Hill To Rally Support For House Republicans' Tax Bill


The House passed a $1.4 trillion tax overhaul today. The vote came after President Trump traveled to Capitol Hill to rally House Republicans ahead of the vote.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. The tax is going really well. Thank you very much.

MCEVERS: The bill passed easily with a handful of Republicans voting no. NPR congressional reporter Scott Detrow is here to talk about it. Hey there, Scott.


MCEVERS: So in a year of tense votes and some failed votes for Republicans, this seemed like a big moment for them, yeah?

DETROW: Yeah. There was really no doubt that it would pass. And that's such a major contrast to efforts to repeal Obamacare, which you'll remember had to be delayed. And when it finally passed the House, there was only one vote to spare. Republicans were really confident going into that meeting with President Trump and even more confident on the House floor. Here's speaker Paul Ryan just ahead of the vote.


PAUL RYAN: The average family at every income level gets a tax cut, a tax cut at every average level.


DETROW: So there's a lot of excitement on the Republican side. They keep pointing out this would be the first major tax overhaul in more than 30 years. But this bill is going to change in the Senate, and the expectation is it's going to be a lot tougher to pass over there.

MCEVERS: We've been talking about this for a couple weeks, but just give us a quick reminder of what is in the House Tax bill.

DETROW: The big-picture stuff is that it lowers corporate taxes from 35 to 20 percent. It reduces the number of individual tax brackets to 4. It does roll back a lot of deductions and tax breaks, but it also doubles the standard deduction that most individuals take.

MCEVERS: All right. And as you said, the next thing is the Senate. They're working on their own bill. What are the key differences in the Senate and House bills?

DETROW: So there have been some interesting developments the last few days. This week, Senate Republicans decided to take yet another crack at repealing at least part of Obamacare. They want to include language that would effectively end the mandate that everyone has to buy health insurance.

The Senate bill would also put a 10-year expiration date on the individual tax cuts, but it would make the corporate tax rates permanent. That's in order to meet requirements so they can pass this with just 51 votes with all Republicans, not 60 votes where they would need Democrats to be on board.

It's a narrow margin over there. You already have Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson saying he wants to see changes before he's a yes. And Maine Republican Susan Collins - she's been a skeptic about Obamacare repeal bills all year long. She now says she has some reservations about the push to get rid of the individual mandate. And we're still waiting to hear from several other Republicans, including Bob Corker of Tennessee, who has expressed a lot of worry about how this would affect the deficit.

MCEVERS: What about the Democrats? How are they positioning themselves now?

DETROW: In the House, the bill did not get any Democratic votes today. And you could probably expect the same in the Senate side even though President Trump has really aggressively wooed Democrats from red states who are up for election next year. You're starting to see Democrats focus on the fact that the Senate bill makes corporate taxes permanent but sets an expiration date on individual taxes. Here's Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden in a committee hearing today.


RON WYDEN: When you're reaching for the cranberry sauce, Republicans are going to be reaching for your pocket books to give handouts to multinational corporations.

DETROW: You know, last month it was Halloween references. This bill is scary.


DETROW: Now we are onto Thanksgiving. Wyden can still probably use those lines because Republicans are hoping to vote on this right after Thanksgiving when they're still fresh. But if the final bill is coming up for a vote ahead of Christmas, which is President Trump's goal, you might be hearing one-liners about lumps of coal in stockings.

MCEVERS: (Laughter).

DETROW: But you know, on that idea of expiring individual but not corporate, Republicans are making a calculation here that if this does become law, then down the line in 10 years, no matter who's in charge, there's going to be a real hesitance to let those expire and raise people's taxes. The Bush-era tax cuts were supposed to be temporary, but most of them ended up being extended.

MCEVERS: NPR congressional reporter Scott Detrow, thanks so much.

DETROW: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.
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