House and Senate Pass Bills, But House Now Has to Vote Again
Taxes. The House and Senate voted along party lines on Tuesday and into early Wednesday to pass the most sweeping rewrite of the tax code in decades. The $1.5 trillion tax bill, which is expected to head to Trump’s desk in the coming days, will have broad effects on the economy, making deep and lasting cuts to corporate taxes as well as temporarily lowering individual taxes.
But the votes didn’t go without a hitch. The House will have to vote again on the Republican tax bill to benefit the ultra-rich after the Senate parliamentarian ruled that three of its provisions violated guidelines on what types of legislation can pass with a simple majority. Among the items that were deemed out of order was the title of the bill: the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
The Senate passed the bill with a 51-48 vote. Ailing Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) wasn’t present.
The bill drops the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. Individual tax rates will also drop. Families earning less than $25,000 a year would receive an average tax cut of $60 while those earning more than $733,000 will see an average cut of $51,000. Many of the breaks for individuals are set to expire. The bill could raise taxes on 53% of Americans by 2027.
Interest deductions on mortgages and a provision allowing Americans to deduct what they pay in state and local taxes will be curtailed.
Eleven of the 12 House Republicans who voted against the bill are from New York, New Jersey or California which are expected to be hit hard by the bill’s reduction of the state and local tax deduction.
The bill also voids an Affordable Care Act requirement that nearly all Americans obtain some form of health coverage or pay a penalty. The change is expected to eventually leave 13 million more people with no health insurance.
No breaks for poor children. Congress’ plans to cut children’s’ healthcare is proceeding as planned. Connecticut says it will shut down its healthcare program for low- and middle-income children Jan. 31. Congress let the Children’s Health Insurance Program lapse on Sept. 30. The program provides insurance to nearly 9 million children nationwide. Alabama announced it would freeze enrollment in its CHIP program starting Jan. 1. Colorado has been sending notices to families saying the program will end Jan. 31 without new money from Congress.
Alaska. The Canadian company that wants to build Pebble Mine in the Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska which supports the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world may have found a new partner to help finance the mine. Northern Dynasty, a small Canadian mine developer, said First Quantum Minerals, the world’s eighth-biggest copper producer, has agreed to acquire an option to buy a 50% stake in the project for $1.5 billion. Northern Dynasty has been looking for a development partner since Anglo America Plc, which spent more than $500 million on it, pulled out in 2013 as gold and copper prices fell. Former President Barack Obama’s EPA used the Clean Water Act to block the mine, but Trump’s EPA lifted that restriction. The mine would still need to get state and federal permits.