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Lawmakers continue debate on Senate GOP tax bill after passage

Sen. Chuck Schumer said Democrats hope to still negotiate with Republicans to make the final bill more supportive of the middle class.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) speaks during a meeting

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) speaks during a meeting on tax reform and election results at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 8, 2017. Photo Credit: Bloomberg / Olivier Douliery

Democratic senators on Sunday attacked Republicans for passing tax cut legislation just hours after the bill was released, saying it would add more than a trillion dollars to the nation’s deficit if it becomes law.

Senate Republicans passed the $1.5 trillion tax package just before 2 a.m. Saturday by a vote of 51-49, with “no” votes from all Democrats. The bill now faces reconciliation efforts with legislation passed by the House.

Republican lawmakers and Trump administration officials meanwhile predicted the legislation would pay for itself, dismissing analyses by several nonpartisan scorekeepers of the law’s effect on the deficit.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said that even accounting for growth, the bill would add $2 trillion to the nation’s $20 trillion debt. The process “just plain stunk,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who caucuses with the Democrats, said “process matters” and tax breaks for special interests would be exposed in the coming days.

“We’re going to find some really stinky stuff in here that we didn’t know,” King said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “Anything good that happens in America in the next year, including good weather at the Super Bowl, is going to be attributed to this bill.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), speaking at an unrelated news conference at his midtown Manhattan office, said the bill benefits the wealthy over the middle class. “We Democrats want to sit down with Republicans and try to come up with a bill that actually helps the middle class,” he said. “It’s not too late. We hope they’ll still change their minds.”

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called growth predictions to make up for the nearly $1.5 trillion in tax cuts “pretty darn achievable.”

“I’m confident this is not only revenue neutral to the government, but actually it’s very likely to be a revenue producer,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a moderate who had been on the fence, also cited economists who said the legislation would help the economy. “Economic growth produces more revenue and that will help to offset this tax cut and actually lower the debt,” she told NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

Host Chuck Todd cited the Senate tax bill’s projected cost that ranged from $516 billion, by the Washington think tank Tax Foundation, to $1 trillion, by Congress’ nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation.

Collins said she would be watching the reconciliation process between the House and the Senate, but she added that she was satisfied by amendments she had helped negotiate, including commitments on medical expense and property tax deductions.

The tax package is the most sweeping overhaul of the tax code in more than 30 years.

Sen. Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican, admitted he didn’t read “every single letter on every single page,” but he defended the process.

“I did not read 470 pages. But have I read every aspect of that bill before it was fused together? The answer is yes,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

New York government leaders and Long Island business organizations have decried the bill, which would no longer allow taxpayers to fully deduct state and local taxes from their federal tax bill.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a Democrat, said Sunday that the bill “would just be a devastating blow to Long Island” as it seeks to attract and retain young people. Bellone, during a radio appearance on “Cats Roundtable” with John Catsimatidis, said he was appealing to Trump “to really step up and make sure that nothing becomes law that modifies or eliminates the deduction for state and local taxes.”

With Laura Figueroa Hernandez

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