Senate passes sweeping tax bill, gives Trump first major legislative win

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky (C) remarks after the Senate passed President Donald Trump's $1.5 trillion tax reform bill early Wednesday. Earlier, the House passed similar legislation. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

By Ray Downs – UPI

The Senate voted to pass a sweeping tax bill early Wednesday morning, giving Republicans their first major legislative victory since President Donald Trump took office.

The bill will now go back to the House for a final vote due to three changes made during the Senate vote process, but will likely pass once again before going to the president’s desk for his signature. The House passed a similar version Tuesday.

The vote went completely along party lines, 51 to 48, with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., abstaining due to health reasons.

The $1.5 trillion tax bill is the first major overhaul of the tax code in 30 years and drastically cuts corporate taxes, along with temporary cuts to individual tax brackets that will go back up to current rates after a few years to help pay the tax cut.

“After eight straight years of underperformance and slow growth, America is ready to take off,” Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a news conferenceafter the vote. “Coupled with regulatory reforms that have already been implemented by the administration, we now add comprehensive tax reform, major middle class tax relief and making our businesses both large and small, competitive around the world.”

Democrats unanimously opposed the bill in both the House and Senate votes. Only 12 House Republicans voted against it — each from the high tax states of California, New York and New Jersey, where the bill limits deductions from state and local taxes to $10,000, The New York Times reported.

“The bill that the Republicans jammed through the Senate tonight isn’t tax reform. It’s a heist. Let’s call this out for what it is: Government for sale,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., tweeted after the vote. “Americans are angry. And they are right to be angry. Over & over, again & again, they watch this Congress ignore their problems while jumping to do more favors for billionaires, giant companies, & campaign donors.”

The tax bill slashes corporate taxes from 35 percent to 21 percent. For individuals, it reduces the top income tax bracket from 39.6 percent to 37 percent and doubles the size of inheritances protected from estate taxation to $22 million for married couples.

The bill affects healthcare by eliminating the penalty for those who don’t buy private health insurance — and impacts the environment by opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas drilling.