Senate passes overwhelmingly unpopular tax bill in the dead of night

President Trump will get the final bill on his desk to sign by the new year.

Sen. John Cornyn, (R-TX), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. John Thune (R-SD), and Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY). CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
Sen. John Cornyn, (R-TX), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. John Thune (R-SD), and Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY). CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

While most of the country was asleep, the United States Senate passed the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Tuesday night,  51 to 48  along party lines.

The Republican tax bill, which was been repeatedly called a “legislative win” by the media, is anything but. In reality, it’s the most unpopular piece of legislation in 30 years and does very little for the middle class.

Analysis from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found that 80 percent of the tax bill’s benefits will go to the top 1 percent of earners. Additionally, taxpayers in the bottom quintile (making less than $25,000 a year) would get an average tax cut of roughly $60. Taxpayers in the middle income quintile (those with income between about $49,000 and $86,000) would receive an average tax cut of about $900. Meanwhile, taxpayers making more than $733,000 annually would receive an average cut of $51,000.

Party leaders won over the votes of a handful of senators who had previously expressed concerns over the bill with a series of negotiations that haven’t yet sorted themselves out yet.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who advocated for an expanded child tax credit, was won over by a $300 increase in the credit, even though it was just a third of what he asked for. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) was initially against any tax bill that included a repeal of the individual mandate, but eventually was swayed by an increased state and local tax deduction. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), one of the president’s fiercest critics, wanted a fix to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in return for his vote. There are no signs of any meaningful action being taken on that front, however.

Then there was Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), a deficit hawk and the lone Republican to vote against the tax bill in the Senate in early December. Corker surprised many when he announced last week he would ultimately vote for the final bill, calling it a “far from perfect” piece of legislation but that this is a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity to overhaul the tax code.

Hidden in the 503-page final legislative text, however, is a new provision that had not been included in previous House or Senate versions and stands to benefit Corker directly. It specifically benefits real estate investors who operate “pass-through” businesses. This group includes President Donald Trump and Corker, who “has millions of dollars of ownership stakes in real-estate related LLCs that could also benefit” from the new provision.

Before the bill can get to Trump’s desk, the House of Representatives will have to re-vote Wednesday morning.

The Senate parliamentarian found violations of the Byrd Rule in the final text, no doubt the result of crafting a massive piece of legislation in such a short amount of time.