Sen. Bob Corker, who announced Friday he would vote for the Republican tax bill, later admitted that he hadn't read the full text of the legislation.
The Tennessee Republican, whose vote is integral for the bill's final passage in the upper chamber, made the admission during an interview published Saturday with the International Business Times, reacting to their report that a tax provision slipped into the legislation last-minute would allow a tax deduction for income from real estate LLCs.
The report said Corker called IBT to get a detailed explanation of what the provision does.
“I had like a two-page summary I went through with leadership,” Corker admitted. “I never saw the actual text.”
After he was briefed, Corker was quoted as saying: “If I understand what [the provision] does, it sounds totally unnecessary and borderline ridiculous."
The report said the senator then called back and claimed he would need an accountant to really help him understand the provision.
“I don’t really know what the provision does to be honest. I would need an accountant to explain it,” Corker said. “I had no knowledge of this and would have no knowledge of it except for you guys are calling me about it. I have no idea whatsoever whether it impacts me or doesn’t impact me.”
Examining federal records, IBT determined that Corker stands to gain from the provision as he had made $7 million from real estate LLCs last year. The report also noted that President Trump, per his financial disclosures, had between $41 million and $68 million of the same type of income.
Democrats have decried the provision as gift to the wealthy.
Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, called it a "real estate carve out" that was "airdropped in at K Street’s bidding."
Corker opposed the previous version of the bill over concerns that the $1.5 trillion tax cut could increase the debt too much, and while the conference version of the legislation did not alleviate that concern, Corker said he would vote in favor of this version in the hope that tax cuts and other GOP policies would spur economic growth.
Republicans have a slim 52-seat majority in the Senate, and require 51 votes to pass the bill, which is set for a vote next week.
Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, expressed confidence Friday that the Senate would pass the final tax overhaul bill with all Republicans voting for it, eliminating the need for Vice President Mike Pence to step in and vote.