The question that remains on everybody’s mind following Doug Jones’ Senate win in Alabama is whether a Democratic victory will have any impact on the GOP’s ability to pass a final version of the tax bill.
The consensus is that the bill is still very likely to pass, and here’s why.
Although Jones’ win helps senate Democrats close in on the Republican majority, they will still need Republican votes to ensure that the final bill does not go through. The GOP currently holds an advantage of 52-48. Jones’ confirmation will reduce that majority to 51-49.
Potential Republican Defectors
There is a tiny possibility that the bill won’t pass. Reportedly on the fence about the bill’s impact and certain provisions are Sens. Bob Corker, Susan Collins, and potentially Marco Rubio.
Corker notably voted against the first version of the tax bill – not on moral grounds, but because of the massive amount of federal debt that would accrue under the lowered corporate tax rate. Collins, who represents Maine, has raised concerns about the bill’s proposed cuts to the Affordable Care Act. She has repeatedly voted against Republican efforts to repeal the law in the past and received huge pushback from her constituents following her vote in favor of the initial tax bill.
Collins and Rubio have both raised concerns about the top individual tax rate being dropped from 39.6 percent to 37 percent. Rubio and Sen. Mark Lee proposed a plan in the original bill to set the corporate rate to 20.94 percent and use the revenue to extend the child tax credit to low-income families. That plan was rejected for a proposal to set the rate at 21 percent in order to pay for a cut to the top individual tax rate. Rubio, Lee, and Collins could withhold their votes until the matter is addressed.
Tax Cuts or Bust
However, here’s where the trouble comes in for those counting on defectors. The Alabama election results are not set to be certified until between Dec. 27 and Jan. 3. Although congressional Democrats have called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to postpone the vote until Jones is confirmed, McConnell is not likely to concede.
Instead, the push to wait until Jones is confirmed is likely to light a fire under the negotiations for the final tax bill. Remember, Republicans are working to push the bill through for the sake of both a shallow political victory and their wealthy donors. A final bill could come as early as Wednesday.
Wealthy Republican donors have been unhappy with sitting members of Congress for their inability to get things done and have reportedly threatened to withhold critical donations if that does not change. In other words, Republicans know that they’re in big trouble come 2018 if they don’t pass this bill.
So, it’s tax cuts or bust. If Americans get out, protest, call Congress, and cause enough chaos – we might just have a chance to stop the bill. Otherwise, expect a 20 percent corporate tax rate in your near future.