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US Senate passes tax reform in major win for Donald Trump

The reforms dramatically lower the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%, and include more modest tax cuts aimed at individuals across all income levels.

world Updated: Dec 02, 2017 21:53 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
US tax overhaul,US tax reform,Donald Trump
US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell leaves the Senate floor during debate over the Republican tax reform plan in Washington.(Reuters Photo)

The US Senate passed a drastic overhaul of the country’s tax code that cuts taxes for multinational corporations, small and medium businesses and the wealthy but was a mixed bag for the middle class.

The contentious $1.5 trillion bill was cleared on Saturday morning in a 51-49 vote, bringing the Republicans, who control both chambers of congress and the White House, their first real shot at a legislative victory.

It included several 11th hours changes that the Republican leadership carried out, including extensive handwritten modifications, to win over wavering senators. Democrats protested, asking for more time to study the changes and unsuccessfully tried to postpone the vote to Monday.

But Republicans pushed ahead. “We have an opportunity now to make America more competitive, to keep jobs from being shipped offshore and to provide substantial relief to the middle class,” said Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate.

The bill proposes to cut corporate tax from 35% to 20% starting 2019, cut tax rates for individuals and families but will withdraw a number of tax benefits. A non-partisan congressional body estimates that only 44% of taxpayers will see their burden go down by $500 or more, and high wage-earners will benefit more than the poor.

“The Republicans have managed to take a bad bill and make it worse,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said on the floor of the House. “Under the cover of darkness and with the aid of haste, a flurry of last-minute changes will stuff even more money into the pockets of the wealthy and the biggest corporations.”

The bill will now be reconciled with one passed earlier by the House of Representatives to hammer out a version acceptable to both chambers before it is despatched to the White House for President Donald Trump’s signature.

Trump will be waiting. “Biggest Tax Bill and Tax Cuts in history just passed in the Senate. Now these great Republicans will be going for final passage. Thank you to House and Senate Republicans for your hard work and commitment!” he tweeted after the bill was passed.

Enactment of this bill will be Trump’s most consequential legislative achievement yet, having repeatedly failed to repeal and replace Obamacare, which Republicans have ran against since it became law in 2010.

First Published: Dec 02, 2017 14:39 IST