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Senate approves its version of tax bill early Saturday morning


Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) defends President Trump's sharing of classified intelligence with Russian officials during a press conference on Capitol Hill on May 16, 2017 in Washington, D.C. McConnell has joined other Republicans backing proposed legislation to bolster the background-check system intended to prevent criminals from buying guns, said Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democratic sponsor of the bill. Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, the Senate passed its version of a tax overhaul bill — just hours after the 479-page text was provided to senators, hand-written modifications and all. 

Despite attempts by Democrats to postpone voting until Monday — when they'd had time to read it — the bill passed 51-49 along party lines with the exception of a single "no" vote, cast by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee. A version of the bill authored in the House of Representatives passed last month. 

The two bills need to be reconciled before they can be signed into law. Both versions contain similarities, but the Senate's version retains the numbers of income tax brackets, unlike the House's version, which condenses them to four. 

Rep. Todd Rokita, R-4th District, told the IDS on Saturday he was confident a vote Monday would send the bill to formal negotiation, and he said he was confident Congress would be able to deliver its reconciled bill to the president's desk.

"And from what I’ve seen in terms of the differences between the House and Senate bill, I’m not seeing anything that can't be overcome," Rokita said. "Remember, it’s not just that I’m rank-and-file on this."

The congressman, who is vice-chairman of the House Budget Committee, said the potential legislation "helps middle class, low-middle class and lower class" Americans achieve the American dream, similar to how the Trump administration has marketed the tax overhaul as a "Middle Class Miracle."

The bill, which would cut tax rates and raise income thresholds to qualify for these rates until 2026, is expected to add about $1 trillion to the national debt. Like the House bill, it eliminates state and local income tax deductions and reduces taxes on corporations. 

Unlike the House's version, the Senate's bill removes the individual health care mandate instituted under the Affordable Care Act. The final version of the bill passed Saturday also allows for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer said in a statement Saturday that Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, betrayed Hoosiers by voting against the bill. 

Donnelly released a statement and accompanying video after the bill passed early Saturday calling it "a giveaway to Wall Street and other big money interests."

"This bill does not close tax loopholes like one that allows Wall Street hedge fund managers to pay a lower tax rate than a Hoosier firefighter, than a Hoosier teacher or a Hoosier steelworker – that’s just not right and it’s just not fair," Donnelly said. 

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