GOP Senator: Passing Tax Reform Without Reading Full Bill Different Than Obamacare Passage

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) walks from the chamber to his office during votes on amendments to the GOP tax bill in Washington on Dec. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON – Senators did not have enough time to read the full legislative language of the final tax reform bill before the vote took place in the early hours of Saturday morning, according to Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.).

PJM asked Rounds if he would have time to read the full text before casting his vote.

“No, because the entire bill, there’s two separate parts, first of all, there’s a summary of what each of the parts does, that part we’ve been able to read. The actual text itself will be completed and then it will go into a conference committee where it will come back out again. So most of us have looked at all of the analysis of each one of the sections, section-by-section, that part has been completed,” Rounds told PJM on Capitol Hill on Friday evening.

“But there will still be more work to be completed in terms of the actual fine language within the bill itself.”

Rounds dismissed the recent Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that found the bill would add $1 trillion to the national debt.

“We simply think it’s wrong,” he said, noting that only one of their three analysis components took into account international competition “and that one they only weigh by 20 percent compared to the other two that they weigh at 80 percent – so you can see why they grossly underestimated what the impact will be.”

Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) was also asked if he would be able to read the entire final text of the bill before voting.

“They just put it out but we’ve been reading parts of this and so have the Democrats. I mean, this is so disingenuous to say, ‘well, we haven’t seen it, we haven’t seen it.’ Well, I remember Nancy Pelosi saying, vote for the bill and then figure out what’s in it, that’s not what we’re saying,” Perdue told PJM, referencing the 2010 passage of Obamacare. “We’ve been dealing with these issues for weeks – over 70 hearings in the last few years on tax reform, 70 hearings.”

“This is a well-thought-out bill,” the senator said, adding before the vote that he was “absolutely elated” about its impending passage.

During the original Obamacare debate, Pelosi said, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.” She criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for moving too quickly on Friday to pass the tax bill before the final amended version could be studied.

“If you are so intent on forcing middle-class families to foot the bill so your donors can have a tax break, at least have the decency to find a printer,” Pelosi tweeted along with a photo of the 500-page bill that included handwritten changes and cross-outs.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote on Twitter that she would not be able to finish reading the final bill before the vote because of the handwriting.

Speaking on the floor, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said, “I will not have time to read it before I am forced to vote on it.”

Before the vote on the full bill took place, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said lawmakers did not know what was in it.

“They should be ashamed of themselves that they are willing to pass a bill this big with nobody reading it, with nobody knowing what’s in it,” he said on Friday.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed the Senate 51-49 shortly before 2 a.m. on Saturday. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) was the only Republican defector.