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UPDATE: Sen. Corker Is Last GOP Holdout On Tax Bill

The vote for the GOP tax overhaul bill is expected to take place today


THE LATEST on the GOP tax bill (all times local):

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

5:10 p.m.

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker has become the only Republican senator to say he will vote against his party’s $1.4 trillion tax bill.

His decision won’t affect the measure’s fate. GOP leaders have already said they have enough votes to push the legislation through the Senate in a vote they hope will come later Friday.

Corker’s decision is not a surprise. He had expressed concerns that the measure would add more red ink to the government’s $20 trillion in accumulated debt. He said Friday he doesn’t want to burden future generations.

Corker has broken openly with President Donald Trump, questioning his stability and warning he might cause World War III.

Corker says he told Trump of his decision, and isn’t ruling out backing a compromise House-Senate tax bill.


4:45 p.m.

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins has become the latest GOP holdout to say she’ll vote for the tax bill her party is set to push through the Senate.

The moderate Collins says she believes the measure will provide “much-needed tax relief” to middle-class families and spur economic growth.

Her announcement lacked suspense because GOP leaders have already said they have enough votes for passage, which they hope will occur later Friday.

Earlier this year, Collins was among a group of Republican senators who bucked the party and helped derail their effort to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Collins says she decided to back the tax bill after leaders agreed to let taxpayers deduct up to $10,000 in local property taxes and make other changes.


4:15 p.m.

Senate Republicans are steaming toward passage of a $1.4 trillion tax bill, overcoming eleventh-hour hitches in their drive to deliver a major legislative accomplishment to President Donald Trump by Christmas.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans “have the votes.”

One prior holdout, Jeff Flake of Arizona, announced he would support the bill. Another, Susan Collins of-Maine, said on Twitter she was “delighted” she’d won an agreement from leaders to add a $10,000 deduction for local property taxes and was considered all but certain to back the measure.

With the party controlling the Senate 52-48 and Democrats uniformly opposed, Republicans need 50 votes to win approval for the bill. Vice President Mike Pence would break a tie.


1:10 p.m.

Republican leaders have made changes to the tax bill to win enough votes to clear the Senate. A summary obtained by The Associated Press shows the changes include allowing local property tax deductions up to $10,000 and fatter breaks for many businesses.

The original Senate bill wouldn’t have allowed the property tax deductions. The change was a key demand of Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins.

There would also be lower taxes on companies with owners that pay individual tax rates on profits, and a more gradual elimination of tax breaks for firms buying equipment.

To pay for these changes, the new plan doesn’t fully repeal the alternative minimum tax on high-income families. And it would increase a one-time tax on profits held overseas by U.S.-based corporations.


12:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump is not answering questions about former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s guilty plea to lying to the FBI.

Trump did not respond to shouted questions Friday morning as he welcomed Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Serraj to the White House. He waved and flashed a thumbs up.

The Libyan leader arrived Friday morning. The White House has said they will discuss reaffirming U.S. support for Libya’s unity government and help stabilizing the country.

White House lawyer Ty Cobb says nothing about Flynn’s guilty plea “implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn.” Cobb pointedly noted that Flynn worked in the White House for only 25 days.

Trump has previously referred to Flynn as a “wonderful man.”


12:05 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says “we have the votes” to pass the GOP tax bill.

McConnell talked to reporters after a closed-door meeting of Republican senators.

One prior hold out, Sen. Susan Collins, says she won an agreement to add a deduction for local property taxes. The Maine Republican had been withholding her support for the bill because she wanted homeowners to be able to deduct up to $10,000 in property taxes.

The original Senate bill had completely eliminated the tax deduction for state and local taxes.

Still, Collins was coy about whether she would ultimately vote for the bill.

Smiling, Collins said, “I’m pleased with the progress that’s being made but I’ll announce my position in a couple of hours.”



Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn speaks at the Texas State Rifle Association general meeting in Round Rock on Feb. 25, 2017.

10:35 a.m.

The No. 2 Republican in the Senate says the GOP has the votes to pass a sweeping tax overhaul.

That’s the word on Friday from Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who told reporters, “We’re confident in the 50 and we’d like to build on that.”

Republicans hold a slim 52-48 majority, but with 50 votes — and Vice President Mike Pence breaking a tie — they can muscle their legislation through the Senate.

Cornyn made the comments after Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson said he had won concessions for businesses and would support the legislation.

The sweeping tax overhaul would slash the corporate tax rate and ease some taxes on individuals.


9:35 a.m.

A key Republican, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, says he’s backing the sweeping GOP tax bill. That’s according to an aide.

Johnson’s support for the legislation is a major boost for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as he tries to muscle the measure through the Senate.

GOP leaders hope to vote on Friday and send the measure to a House-Senate conference to work out the differences. They want to deliver a bill to President Donald Trump by Christmas.

In a radio interview with WISN in Wisconsin, Johnson said he secured changes in the bill on the taxes paid by businesses and is now a yes on the legislation.

At issue were millions of businesses whose owners report the firm’s profits on their individual tax returns. The vast majority of U.S. businesses are taxed this way.


6:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump says the Republican tax bill “is getting better and better.”

In an early morning Friday tweet, Trump wrote: “This is a once in a generation chance. Obstructionist Dems trying to block because they think it is too good and will not be given the credit!”

Republicans are eyeing a crucial final vote Friday on the $1.4 trillion Senate bill. GOP leaders have been making major changes up to the last minute, including one that would roll back some of the tax cuts after six years to appease deficit hawks.


3:50 a.m.

Senate Republicans are stepping quickly to meet competing demands of holdout GOP senators for a tax overhaul package expected to add $1 trillion to the nation’s deficit over 10 years.

GOP leaders have been making major changes up to the last minute, including one that would roll back some of the tax cuts after six years to appease deficit hawks.

Republicans eyeing a crucial final vote Friday on the $1.4 trillion Senate bill.

The overall legislation would bring the first overhaul of the U.S. tax code in 31 years. It would slash the corporate tax rate, offer more modest cuts for families and individuals and eliminate several popular deductions.