- Rep. Thomas Massie regularly clashed with GOP leadership and bucked his party
- Massie's decision to support the current House version of the bill is a sign of progress
- "The health care bill? I called it a kidney stone because all we wanted to do was pass it."
"I am going to vote for this," Massie said smiling. "This is a new experience for me to be excited about a bill."
Massie's decision to support the current House version of the bill
is a major sign of progress for leadership that has often struggled to win support from the conference's right flank. Massie, in particular, is known on Capitol Hill for voting against many of leadership's must-pass bills and is considered a deficit hawk.
Massie told CNN outside the Capitol Friday afternoon, however, that tax cuts are a net positive for his constituents back home. He said he had some reservations about the bill adding to the debt, but added that he'd want to just cut spending to make up for it.
"I can go home and tell my constituents unequivocally this bill is better than the status quo," Massie said. "I couldn't do that with health care. The health care bill was slapdash. There wasn't a tenth of the thought and planning in the health care bill that there is in this tax bill. The health care bill? I called it a kidney stone because all we wanted to do was pass it."
Massie's support for the legislation comes as more moderate members from high-tax states like New York and New Jersey -- typically closer allies of leadership -- are laying out opposition toward the tax bill
. The key problem for members from New York and New Jersey is that the Republican tax bill repeals a popular deduction that allows individuals to write off their state and local income and sales taxes from their federal returns. Under the GOP's tax bill individuals can deduct their local and state property taxes, but even that deduction is capped at $10,000.
"I am still opposed to it in the current version," Rep. Peter King, a Republican from New York, told CNN.
Massie's reputation as a rabble-rousing deficit hardliner made his decision to support the tax bill even surprising for some of his colleagues. During his interview with CNN, fellow Kentucky Republican Rep. Andy Barr, approached and slapped Massie on the back.
"My fellow Kentuckian," Barr said pointing to Massie. "I'm proud of him."
Massie then turned to Barr, pointed and joked, "This guy has more concerns than I do about it."