WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said today that the GOP tax plan will be a victory for Republicans despite poor polling for the legislation, which emerged from conference today and was rushed to the House floor for a 227-203 votes.
A dozen Republicans from areas that would see higher taxes voted against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act brokered between House and Senate negotiators, while all Democrats opposed the bill.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said last week that he’d vote against the bill because “the changes do not go far enough to guarantee tax relief for constituents in my district,” and “many in my area could face higher taxes under this plan.”
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) said his constituents would also see tax increases under the bill, which “will also damage our state’s housing market and business environment.”
“I had hoped to be able to vote for a pro-growth tax bill,” Frelinghuysen said. “However, H.R. 1 forces New Jersey residents to pay for tax cuts for residents in other states. I voted ‘No’!”
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) said last week that “getting this bill done and getting this bill done right should not have been a binary choice.”
“On balance, this bill remains a geographic redistribution of wealth, taking extra money from a place like New York to pay for deeper tax cuts elsewhere. New York is a net contributor that now will be contributing even more,” Zeldin said. “This bill chooses winners and losers in a way that could have and should have been avoided.”
At his press conference today, Ryan said he has “no concerns whatsoever” that the tax bill will be a political win for Republicans. “I got to say, if people are out there on TV telling mistruths, disguising the facts of this thing, that’s going to make it unpopular.”
“We are going to focus next year on people, on getting people from welfare to work, on making sure people get the skills they need to get the jobs they want and get the careers that get them the life they need. But more to the point, we have not had a 3 percent economy since before the last recession, the great recession,” Ryan said. “Tax reform will get us a 3 percent economy.”
The speaker also addressed recent rumors that he was pondering leaving Congress. “I am not going anywhere anytime soon,” he said. “And just let’s leave that thing at that.”
House Democratic Conference Committee Chairman Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) said at a news conference that the bill will increase taxes on 53 percent of Americans by 2027 and add over a trillion dollars to the deficit over the next 10 years.
“They borrow against our debt to pay for that, and yet they scramble and hem and haw on figuring a way to pay for $14 billion to ensure that the poorest children of our country have a modicum of health insurance,” Crowley said. “That’s the priority of the Republican conference here in the House of Representatives, that is the priority of the Republican conference in the Senate, and that certainly is the priority of President Trump.”
The conference bill has now been kicked back to the Senate for approval.
“There’s 10 hours of debate. We’ll finish sometime tonight. How much time is yielded back is unclear in the beginning. But we will finish sometime later today,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters today. “Senator Schumer and I have been in discussions about the way forward on government spending. Those conversations, I think, will speed up after the tax bill clears and we’ll have more to say about what that will look like sometime tomorrow.”
McConnell said Republicans are “just beginning to make the argument to the American people” that they’ll benefit from the tax reform bill.