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Trump lauds GOP as tax bill heads to Senate-House conference

On Friday, Republicans added many new, last-minute measures to the 479-page legislation that will take days to fully assess.

President Donald Trump waves as he walks towards

President Donald Trump waves as he walks towards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Md., Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017. Photo Credit: AP / Susan Walsh

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Saturday celebrated the Senate Republicans’ passage of its massive $1.4 trillion tax overhaul in the middle of the night, a significant step toward a major legislative achievement.

“It was a fantastic evening last night. We passed the largest tax cuts in the history of our country and many other things along with it,” Trump said before he left the White House for a day trip of fundraisers in New York City.

“People are going to be very, very happy. They’re going to get tremendous, tremendous tax cuts and tax relief, and that’s what this country needs.”

The Senate narrowly approved its version of a sweeping revision of the tax code that slashes corporate rates and lowers them for small businesses and individuals in a 51-49 vote shortly before 2 a.m. All Democrats voted no, and 51 of the 52 Republicans voted yes.

But the investigation of Russian interference in last year’s presidential election by special counsel Robert Mueller cast a shadow of the Senate Republican accomplishment.

Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser, pleaded guilty Friday morning to making false statements to the FBI about a conversation with the Russian ambassador.

When asked Saturday for his reaction, Trump waved it off.

“What has been shown is no collusion, no collusion,” he said. “There’s been absolutely no collusion, so we’re very happy.”

Senate Republicans passed their tax package two weeks after the House Republicans approved their tax legislation. The two versions will go to a conference between members of both chambers to work out the differences.

Trump, who has insisted on a 20 percent corporate rate, conceded it might rise change in conference to meet Senate budget rules that limit the deficit it creates to $1.5 trillion.

“It could be 22 when it comes out, but it could also be 20,” Trump said. “We’ll see what ultimately comes out.”

After criticizing both Senate and House Republicans for failing to pass a repeal of Obamacare earlier this year, Trump had nothing but praise on Saturday.

“Now these great Republicans will be going for final passage,” he tweeted Saturday morning. “Thank you to House and Senate Republicans for your hard work and commitment.”

Trump regaled donors at his first New York City fundraiser at Cipriani restaurant on 42nd Street with a story of how he heard about the Senate victory.

“Last night at three in the morning, I got a call. I said, ‘Call me, you can call me.’ It’s the largest tax decrease in the history of our country by far,” Trump said.

Trump added that he thinks Democrats hurt themselves.

“We got no Democrats’ help and I think that’s going to cost them very big in the election, because basically they voted against tax cuts,” Trump said. “And I don’t think politically it’s good to vote against tax cuts.”

But Democrats also said the tax bill would hurt Republicans.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, criticized the bill and the fast-track partisan process, which he said resulted in tax cuts that benefit the wealthy and corporations over the middle class.

Wyden warned Republicans later will cite the deficit, estimated to grow by $1 trillion in 10 years, to propose and pass cuts to benefits in popular social safety net programs.

“There is a trail of broken promises to working families in the mad dash to pass this bill, and the American people understand this is the first step of continuing attacks on Medicare, on Medicaid and Social Security,” Wyden said. “This vote will not be forgotten.”

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