Republicans are rushing to jam their 503-page tax bill through Congress

Lawmakers have just one weekend to read through the 503-page bill.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, arrives to update reporters at the Capitol after Republicans signed the conference committee report to advance the GOP tax bill, in Washington, Friday, Dec. 15, 2017. (CREDIT: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, arrives to update reporters at the Capitol after Republicans signed the conference committee report to advance the GOP tax bill, in Washington, Friday, Dec. 15, 2017. (CREDIT: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The GOP plan to overhaul the nation’s tax code is moving at lightning speed.

The White House released its framework for the tax legislation in September, and by the beginning of December, the House of Representatives and the Senate versions of the bill were passed. A conference committee is now hammering out the details of a final bill.

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House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) announced Friday the 503-page piece of major legislation will be filed and made public at 5:30 P.M. This leaves Congress with just a weekend to read hundreds of pages of tax policy before voting Tuesday on what will become the biggest change to the nation’s tax code in over three decades.

Democratic lawmakers haven’t even seen the final bill, just hours before it’s released to the public.

What is currently known about the final bill is that it retains some of the popular deductions that faced elimination in the House version of bill, including the medical expense deduction, and removes the proposed tax on higher education tuition waivers, after massive outcry from graduate students.

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The final bill would also lower the corporate tax rate to 21 percent (rather than the 20 percent that was voted on in the House and Senate) in exchange for cutting the top individual tax rate from 39.7 percent to 37 percent.

This frustrated Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) whose amendment to expand the child tax credit in exchange for a 20.94 percent corporate tax rate was voted down in the Senate in favor of a strict 20 percent rate.

As a result, Rubio threatened to vote no against the bill unless these issues were addressed. Lee also hinted he would do the same.

Republican lawmakers, who announced just two days ago that they had reached a final consensus on the bill, worked through Thursday night on a proposal that would get Rubio on board.

On Friday, leadership announced they would bump up the refundable portion of the child tax credit (currently at $1,100) to $1,400. This 300 dollar difference, was apparently enough for Rubio, despite it being just a third of what he originally asked for.

There was a second part to Rubio’s child tax credit concerns that has yet to be addressed. The $1,400 refundable portion lifts the cap on what will be made available to families, but there is also an earnings phase-in, which calculates at what income level these tax credits will kick in. Many families wouldn’t get anything from just lifting the cap. What goes into the phase-in rate is buried somewhere in the 503-page bill, likely to be discovered by Rubio and other members of Congress over the weekend.