Sen. Marco Rubio said he won't vote for the GOP tax plan without changes
There are few other senators who might vote no or not be able to vote next week
Republicans have an aggressive schedule for getting their tax plan through Congress, but with a vote on final passage coming as early as Monday, congressional observers are keeping a close eye on a handful of GOP senators who can prevent or pass the legislation.
A reminder: Senate Republicans can afford to lose Sen. Bob Corker and one more, and if there’s perfect attendance, still pass the bill with the assistance of Vice President Mike Pence casting the 50-50-tie-breaking vote. It remains to be seen if new problems arise in the next 24 hours, but early indications are the conference should stick close to its original votes with the new deal.
Here’s the latest on what the key senators are saying about how they’ll vote.
Sen. Marco Rubio
Perhaps the biggest news Thursday, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida made clear he’s a “no” vote until he gets confirmation that changes he wants to the child tax credit.
“I’ve been pretty consistent in my communications on this issue and that is I want us to see the refundable portion of the child tax credit increased from its current number,” Rubio told reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday. “If it stays at $1,100, I’m a ‘no.’ Let’s hope it doesn’t.”
Despite the very real revenue issues Republicans face on their tax bill, Senate GOP leaders are working to put more money toward the refundability piece of the child tax credit, according to two GOP sources involved in the process. The amount is currently being negotiated and it’s unclear Rubio will get exactly what he wants, but he will get something, the sources said.
Sen. Bob Corker
Corker, a Tennessee Republican who’s not seeking re-election, was the sole GOP senator to vote against the tax legislation on its initial passage through the chamber and there’s little reason to believe that he would change his mind this time around.
An aide to Corker told CNN on Thursday that Corker wants to examine the final agreement before deciding how he will vote.
Corker told CNN on Wednesday, “I have all the same concerns that I have had,” which are focused on the impact of the bill on the deficit. He remains in conversations with Trump administration economic officials about the bill.
Sen. Jeff Flake
Like Bob Corker, Sen. Jeff Flake is not seeking re-election and was critical of the tax bill’s affect on the deficit. Unlike Corker, Flake ultimately voted to advance the legislation out of the Senate.
On Thursday, Flake told CNN that he’s still looking at the tax bill and hasn’t made a decision on how he will vote.
Flake make clear his support was contingent on a slower phase out of the expensing provision in the Senate legislation. It’s still unclear how the conference deal treats that provision – making Flake’s support still unknown at this point.
Sen. Susan Collins
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is still evaluating the proposal, but made clear Wednesday slowing down the process wasn’t necessary. She hasn’t wavered on what she needs – the provisions she got to vote “yes” on the Senate proposal, plus separate health care items. GOP leaders are working to make those things happen.
Sen. John McCain
Sen. John McCain of Arizona is one of two senior senators hit with health issues that have kept them away from key votes this week.
McCain, who announced he had brain cancer this summer, was hospitalized this week “for normal side effects of his ongoing cancer therapy,” his office said in a statement Wednesday night.
“Senator McCain looks forward to returning to work as soon as possible,” the statement said, though it did not include any details on the timing of his return.
Flake said Thursday he spoke to McCain’s wife Cindy McCain on Wednesday night about Sen. John McCain’s health.
“We expect him back,” Flake said. “I expect him back. He’s obviously recovering from the effects of the treatment and so we expect him back.”