Things were looking up early Thursday for fans of the Senate tax reform. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) came out in support of the bill, and the GOP spin doctors got a head start on their celebrating. But Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) refused to budge and proved their victory dance premature by at least one more day.
As we learned in the Obamacare repeal fight, Senate Republicans cannot spare a single vote if they want to pass their tax bill. Late Thursday, the tax reform bill hit a speed bump on the road to passing the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Thursday that the Senate would continue its race to vote on the plan into Friday.
This decision came after a bit of trouble for Republicans when Senator Bob Corker (R-TN). Corker, who will not run for re-election in 2018, made it clear that he would not vote in favor of any proposal that increased the deficit by even a penny.
Corker’s solution was to install a trigger in the legislation to automatically raise taxes if the proposed changes fail to generate the kind of economic growth the bill promises. However, the Senate parliamentarian explained that such a trigger would not comply with the rules. But Corker refused to budge.
As the Senate entertained and voted on countless amendments in what is referred to as a “vote-a-rama” on the floor, the proceedings took a surprising turn.
The chamber was voting on a standard amendment to return the bill to the finance committee, a move that Republicans clearly do not want. After an hour it became apparent that three Senators had not yet to cast their votes.
Senators Bob Corker, Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) were present and part of the debate but held off on voting. Eventually, the Senators were surrounded by other Republicans, and at one point the Senate Parliamentarian came over to join the discussion. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) could be heard at one point saying “now Bob.” Finally, the Senators voted against sending the bill back to committee.
The move signals a problem for McConnell. Corker has drawn his line in the sand, and GOP leadership will have to find a way to appease the deficit hawks if they have any hope of keeping the bill alive.
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