Victories have been few and far between for President Trump in his first year in office – the result of a series of self-inflicted errors, sinking poll numbers and a decidedly fractious Republican Party.
But, on Tuesday afternoon, Trump won one – or, at the very least, took a major step in the right direction toward securing the first real legislative accomplishment of his first year.
That win came in the form of Trump’s tax cuts plan clearing the Senate Budget Committee, a prospect that seemed somewhat dicey even as the day began.
Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, who had announced his opposition to the bill before Congress left for the Thanksgiving recess, decided to cast a vote for the measure to proceed to the Senate floor – following an extended back-and-forth with Trump at the weekly GOP conference meeting on Tuesday.
So did Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, who had expressed significant reservations about how much the legislation would add to the deficit. (Corker is also someone who has been outspoken within the Republican Party about his doubts about Trump.)
Now. Before I get a bunch of emails from people that passing the tax cut bill through a committee with a GOP majority isn’t the same thing as getting it through the full Senate and signed into law, let me say: Passing the tax cut bill through a committee with a GOP majority isn’t the same thing as getting it through the full Senate and signed into law.
But this was a hurdle. And Trump cleared it. And every time you clear a hurdle in Congress, you gain the most precious commodity on Capitol Hill: Momentum.
There are still no guarantees about passage before the full Senate. But people like Corker, Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) – all of whom had been considered very much on the fence – sounded positive about the direction the bill was headed after meeting with Trump on Tuesday afternoon.
That can change, especially since even the smallest tweak to a bill like this one can mean billions of dollars diverted here or there – and the potential loss of a vote the White House was counting on.
Still. For a White House that has struggled to do even the most basic blocking and tackling when it comes to legislation, today is a step in the right direction.
Now comes the highest hurdle: Actually finding some way to make the tax cut bill law.
Read Tuesday’s full edition of The Point.