WASHINGTON — Republican House members from Nebraska and Iowa gave a big thumbs up Tuesday to their party’s tax overhaul as the bill inched its way closer to President Donald Trump’s desk.
The Senate approved the legislation early Wednesday, with the support of all four GOP members from Nebraska and Iowa.
A ruling by the Senate parliamentarian striking a couple of provisions in the bill means the House must vote yet again Wednesday before the bill can become law.
During Tuesday’s House vote, protesters shouted “shame” and other remonstrations from the galleries as lawmakers recorded their votes on the floor.
Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., joined his colleagues in backing the bill, saying his constituents support its provisions, specifically citing a near doubling of the standard deduction.
“This will help Nebraskans grow their families, further their education and keep more of their hard-earned paychecks,” Bacon said in a press release.
Increasing the standard deduction, lowering rates and boosting child tax credits will produce net tax savings for most — Republicans say about $2,000 for a family of four making $73,000 a year.
But the bill also eliminates personal exemptions and various other deductions, and at least some Americans will soon see increases in their taxes as a result of the law.
The number of middle-class families facing tax increases will rise in the years ahead as many of the individual tax changes expire.
In supporting the legislation, Republicans shrugged off dismal opinion polls that show the measure is unpopular with the public, which sees it as overly weighted in favor of special interests, corporations and the wealthy.
Democrats have shown they are eager to capitalize on those perceptions to make gains in next year’s midterm elections.
“By supporting this disastrous tax policy, Iowa Republicans are sending a clear signal to our state that national Republican politics are more important than working families in Iowa,” Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price said in a press release. “Iowans will remember who enabled this mess at the ballot box next fall.”
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said that the bill’s lack of popularity is the result of unfair criticisms by Democrats and that people not focusing on the economic growth it will deliver.
“The biggest part of this really is the corporate tax relief,” King said. “It’s not the most popular part because people aren’t thinking about what we need for an economic stimulation, that if companies are making money they’re investing that capital and they’re hiring people to help them make money.”
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., said the fact that Congress hasn’t passed a tax overhaul this sweeping in more 30 years shows just how difficult it is to effect large-scale change.
“Overall this is a reasoned attempt to of course simplify but also to re-ignite small business, entrepreneurial momentum, put more money in the pockets of most people who are working hard and revive this ‘Made in America’ label,” Fortenberry said. “It’s not the be-all and end-all of human existence but it is a structural change that should be helpful economically.”
Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., is a member of the Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for writing tax bills. Smith said he was focused on helping agriculture. That included preserving farmers’ ability to fully deduct the property taxes they pay on farmland as a business expense. Those not claiming property taxes as a business expense would see their state and local tax deductions capped at $10,000.
“This is an opportunity to reduce the tax burden on Americans across the economic spectrum while modernizing our tax code for the 21st century,” Smith said during a floor speech.
King said that the tax bill comes just in time for the holidays and that the tax benefit for most Americans will be bigger than any package they have under their Christmas tree.
“And I guarantee you that President Trump, when he signs this tax package, he’s going to look up and he’s going to say ‘Merry Christmas, America,’ ” King said.
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