Senate passes GOP tax bill, sets stage for House revote

The Senate passed a sweeping overhaul of the country’s tax system early Wednesday — with the House a lock to do the same later in the day, after its initial approval of the bill on Tuesday was canceled by a minor technicality.

The measure, which will provide savings for a majority of taxpayers while sending a windfall to corporations and the wealthiest Americans, now goes to President Trump, who has promised it as a Christmas gift to taxpayers.

The package passed the Senate just after midnight in a strictly party-line vote of 51-48. It was expected to be on Trump’s desk on Wednesday after the House revotes.

“The United States Senate just passed the biggest in history Tax Cut and Reform Bill,” Trump tweeted early Wednesday. “Terrible Individual Mandate (ObamaCare) Repealed. Goes to the House tomorrow morning for final vote. If approved, there will be a News Conference at The White House at approximately 1:00 P.M.”

Republicans said the measure will bring much needed relief to working-class families and jump-start the economy.

Democrats derided the bill as a handout to big donors and wealthy individuals, who will see the largest cuts, along with corporations, whose top tax rate will shrink from 35 percent to 21 percent.

Protesters chanting, “Kill the bill, don’t kill us” interrupted the Senate vote. Vice President Mike Pence, who was in the chamber in case he was needed for a tie-breaking vote, called on the sergeant at arms to restore order.

The tax cuts total nearly $1.5 trillion over the next decade and will take effect in January. Workers will start to see changes in the amount of taxes withheld from their paychecks in February.

The bill gives Trump his first significant legislative victory, and he celebrated after the House vote earlier in the day.

“Congratulations to Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, Kevin Brady, Steve Scalise, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and all great House Republicans who voted in favor of cutting your taxes!” he tweeted.

Ryan (R-Wis.), the House speaker, crowed after his chamber OK’d the bill, “Today, we give the people of this country their money back.”

At which a woman shouted from the gallery, “You’re lying, you’re lying! Only the rich people are going to get any money!”

She was quickly escorted out.

Not long afterward, it emerged that the House would need a do-over Wednesday after Democrats discovered that several provisions in the bill it passed violated Senate rules. The new vote, though, was regarded as a formality.

Many New Yorkers and residents of other high-income, high-tax states like New Jersey and Connecticut might see their taxes remain flat or even rise because of the way the bill is structured — which prompted a fierce debate on the House floor between two Empire State lawmakers, Queens Democrat Joe Crowley and upstate Republican Tom Reed.

In a fervent speech before the vote, Crowley called the tax bill a “scam” that will benefit the Trump family and corporate special interests. He shook his finger at the Republicans and asked how they could vote for the bill with a “clear conscience.”

“Is this bill going to make life better for cops, firefighters, nurses, truck drivers, students, veterans, teachers and shift workers? Hell no!” Crowley yelled.

Reed, who helped write the legislation as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, rose to shoot down Crowley.

“All the people you referenced in the middle class, I say hell yes!” Reed said. “They are going to be helped by this bill.”

Crowley tried to interrupt, but Reed refused to yield the floor.

“It’s going to let them keep their money in their pocket that they earned,” Reed said.

Ryan dismissed multiple polls that show a majority of Americans opposes the bill.

“This is the greatest example of a promise being made and a promise being kept,” he said, predicting that “results are going to make this popular.”

The tax plan won’t affect returns covering the 2017 tax year.

Officials said taxpayers will start noticing changes next year when their paychecks are different because of new withholding rates.

The plan will double the standard deduction to $12,000 for single filers and around $24,000 for couples, while the top bracket drops from 39.6 percent to 37 percent.

A dozen House Republicans voted against the tax overhaul — eight of them from New York and New Jersey, where residents could be hardest hit by the $10,000 cap on deductions for state and local income, sales and property taxes.

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