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Donald Trump

Trump's much-touted tax cut on track for passage in US Congress after last two Republicans say yes

Each adopted their own versions of the controversial tax code overhaul, and the final compromise text was released

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 December, 2017, 10:45am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 December, 2017, 9:01pm

A major tax cut promised by US President Donald Trump was on track for final passage next week, after two previous holdouts in his Republican Party said on Friday they would vote yes on the legislation.

Republicans in both houses of the US Congress, where they hold majorities, each adopted their own versions of the controversial tax code overhaul, and the final compromise text was released.

“By lowering tax rates, simplifying the rigged and burdensome tax code, and repealing the failed tax on lower- and middle-income households known as the Obamacare individual mandate, this legislation will grow our economy, raise wages and promote economic competitiveness,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

Trump “looks forward to fulfilling the promise he made to the American people to give them a tax cut by the end of the year”, she added.

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida had imperilled the legislation this week when he said he would not vote in favour of the sweeping bill unless some changes were made.

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Rubio had been demanding a doubling of the child tax credit to US$2,000. His spokeswoman confirmed to Agence France-Presse that Rubio had moved to the “yes” camp after he got an increase in the refundable portion of the credit, which will help lower-income families.

Bob Corker of Tennessee, a fiscal conservative who had been the only Senate Republican to vote against the chamber’s initial tax proposal, also said he would vote for the bill, despite reservations over the likelihood that the reforms would substantially increase the national debt.

“I know every bill we consider is imperfect and the question becomes is our country better off with or without this piece of legislation,” Corker said in a statement.

“I think we are better off with it. I realise this is a bet on our country’s enterprising spirit, and that is a bet I am willing to make.”

Wall Street stocks surged to fresh records following the news that Rubio and Corker were on board with the reform, pushing the long-awaited measure closer to the finish line.

Under the legislation, the federal corporate tax would fall from 35 per cent to 21 per cent – a notch up from the 20 per cent in previous versions – and the maximum income tax rate would drop from 39.6 per cent to 37 per cent.

Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate, and could have only afforded two defectors, with US Vice-President Mike Pence casting a deciding vote in case of a deadlock.

No Democrats support the measure.

Each Republican member therefore has considerable power, especially with Senator John McCain hospitalised as he fights an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Trump was optimistic about his party’s chances of passing tax reform, which would be a massive win for the leader who has yet to notch any major legislative victory after nearly a year in office.

“I think we are going to be in a position to pass something as early as next week, which will be monumental,” he said.

Trump has promised Americans that the sweeping reform would pass before Christmas, so that it would take effect from the beginning of 2018.