Rubio says he will vote no on Republican tax bill without changes, other GOP senators voice concern

The bill is already bleeding support.

Credit:  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Credit: (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

One of Congress’ most spineless senators has thrown a wrench in the Republican Party’s plan to overhaul the tax code before Christmas.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is a no on the GOP tax bill unless the child tax credit (CTC), for which he has previously advocated, is extended to lower-income families.

Rubio has hinted he might vote against the bill in the past.

His disapproval intensified after Republican leaders announced Wednesday they had reached a final decision on the specifics of the GOP legislation. The full text will be released on Friday, but key details include lowering the top individual income bracket to 37 percent and cutting the corporate tax rate to 21 percent, rather than the 20 percent originally proposed by the White House.

This no doubt frustrated Rubio, who co-sponsored an amendment with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) that would have extended the child tax credit (currently expanded to $2,000 in the GOP Senate bill) to lower-income families who don’t make enough to pay taxes on their income, but rather pay taxes on their payroll. Rubio and Lee proposed Congress could pay for the change by increasing the corporate tax rate to 20.94 percent.

At the time, Republican leadership was insistent on a 20 percent corporate tax rate, largely because it was what President Donald Trump wanted. As a result, they slammed Rubio’s 20.94 percent proposal as “anti-growth.”

After Trump suggested he would be open to a 21 or 22 percent tax rate — and after Republicans’ 20 percent suggestion failed on the Senate floor — Republicans in the tax writing conference committee jumped at the opportunity this week to raise it a percentage point, giving the top income bracket a tax break.

“20.94% Corp. rate to pay for tax cut for working family making $40k was anti-growth but 21% to cut tax for couples making $1million is fine?” Rubio tweeted angrily on Tuesday, in response.

Lee, a co-sponsor with Rubio on their child tax credit amendment, has also suggested he may not be completely on board with the tax bill if it doesn’t meet his demands.

“Sen. Lee is undecided on the bill in its current form,” a spokesperson for the Utah legislator told Independent Journal Review correspondent Haley Byrd on Thursday. “Sen. Lee continues to work to make the CTC as beneficial as possible to American working families.”

This is the first real sign that the GOP tax overhaul may be in serious trouble.

The party cannot give Rubio and Lee an expanded CTC because the tax bill is already cutting it extremely close to the $1.5 trillion dollar price tag allowed under Senate rules. The meager revenue raised by increasing the corporate tax rate 1 percentage point has already been wasted on reducing the top individual rate for billionaires.

In addition, the bill has been bleeding support for myriad other reasons. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), the only Republican to vote against the bill in the Senate previously, has also stated he might vote against the tax bill over concerns it would explode the deficit.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) initially voted for the bill in the Senate under the impression that he would get a fair fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in the congressional spending bill. But that hasn’t yet been secured.

Meanwhile, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) remains on the fence. Concerns over DACA and Obamacare cost sharing reductions (CSRs) aren’t currently addressed in the GOP bill, which the senator has previously indicated may sway her vote.

Republicans are still planning to move ahead with a vote on the tax bill as soon as they’re able. The Senate is expected to vote on the final bill on Tuesday. The House is expected to follow shortly thereafter.