U.S. President Donald Trump praised the Senate’s early Saturday morning passage of an immense Republican tax overhaul bill, telling reporters outside the White House the measure calls for “the biggest tax cuts in the history of our country.”
Later Saturday at a Republican fundraiser in New York, Trump attributed passage of the bill to semantics.
“For years I said I wonder why they (lawmakers) use the word reform. Because nobody knows what reform means. Reform could mean your taxes are going up. And I said to my guys, I called everybody and we had a meeting — senators, Congress, everybody. I said we have to use the word, ‘tax cuts.’”
Earlier Saturday, Trump praised two top Senate Republicans, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, for securing enough votes for passage.
“We are one step closer to delivering MASSIVE tax cuts for working families across America. Special thanks to @SenateMajLdr Mitch McConnell and Chairman @SenOrrinHatch for shepherding our bill through the Senate. Look forward to signing a final bill before Christmas!,” Trump said on Twitter.
The Senate passed the legislation by a 51 to 49 margin without a single Democratic vote, a development Trump said was a political mistake that will haunt Democrats in the 2018 midterm election.
“We got no Democratic help and I think that’s going to cost them very big in the election because basically they voted against tax cuts. And I don’t think politically it’s good to vote against tax cuts.”
The Senate passed the legislation without Democratic support and congressional reaction was also divided along party lines.
House Speaker Paul Ryan commended the Senate and urged congress to act quickly to get a final bill signed into law.
“I look forward to a conference committee so we can get a final bill to the president’s desk,” the Republican lawmaker tweeted.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted that the bill is a “scam” and would result in “Tens of millions of middle class families” being “slapped with a tax hike.”
“In passing the #GOPTaxScam, @SenateGOP has sealed its betrayal of the American middle class. https://goo.gl/fBvQrH.”
Many Democrats, including Senator John Tester, were angry over the way Republicans approved the hastily-written bill in the wee hours of the morning without any public debate.
“I was just handed a 479-page tax bill a few hours before the vote. One page literally has hand scribbled policy changes on it that can’t be read. This is Washington, D.C. at its worst. Montanans deserve so much better,” Tester wrote on Twitter.
A few more hurdles must be overcome before a final tax package can become law. The Senate bill and a version passed earlier by the House of Representatives must now be reconciled. The reconciled measure must then be approved by both chambers of Congress before it is submitted to the president for him to sign into law.
Negotiations over the tax measures will take place as Congress simultaneously tries to meet a December 8 deadline for government funding to expire, putting additional pressure on Republicans to get a new tax law on the books before Christmas as requested by Trump.