House Republicans on Wednesday voted for the second time in two days to pass a major tax overhaul, sending the $1.5 trillion tax cut to President Trump, as promised, just before Christmas.
"With the new tax system we will deliver today, things will change for the better, and they will change immediately," said the bill's author, Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, on the House floor.
The House passed the bill 224-201, after passing it Tuesday 227-203. Twelve Republicans voted "no" in both votes.
Wednesday’s vote was a formality, as all the drama already played out Tuesday afternoon when Speaker Paul Ryan first proved he had the votes to pass the bill.
A re-vote was required because several small provisions of the bill were stripped out to accord with Senate rules just before the upper chamber voted for passage in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The two versions of the bill have to be exactly the same, requiring the House to vote again on the Senate-passed version.
The Senate procedure that allowed Republicans to advance and pass the bill with just a simple majority, known as the budget reconciliation process, also requires that provisions have primarily budgetary effects, which led the Senate Parliamentarian to strip out the provisions.
The changes were minimal, but Democrats mocked Republicans nonetheless for trying to rush the bill through so quickly that it required a second House vote.
"We're here this morning solely because of a mistake," said Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas. "This is the blunder rule, and this is not the first big blunder in this rule."
Brady put a positive spin on the re-vote. "With this vote, it’ll be the House, the people's house, that officially sends this legislation to President Trump’s desk," the Texas lawmaker said.
One of the changes was the name of the bill, which had to go under Senate rules. The former Tax Cuts and Jobs Act now has a more bland name to reflect that it's a budget reconciliation measure passing under privileged rules in the Senate.
The Senate also stripped out language that would have protected Berea College in Kentucky from a new endowment tax, and a Sen. Ted Cruz-authored provision that would have allowed the use of 529 college savings plans for homeschooling expenses. The Texas senator railed against Democrats late Tuesday on the Senate floor and on Twitter for making the change.
Why do Dems want to block 529 expansion that allows parents use tax-advantaged savings to cover costs of special needs education therapies for homeschoolers? Why are they refusing to help families afford occupational, behavioral, physical, speech-language, & audiology therapies?— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 20, 2017
Despite these changes, the major revision of the tax code is now set for Trump’s signature with a number of major conservative victories. Not only will the bill revamp the tax code, but it will also repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate and open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling.
Democrats focused on some smaller tax increases that taxpayers would face a decade from now, and accused Republicans of robbing the middle class to pay for corporate tax cuts.
"Today Republicans take their victory lap for pillaging the middle class to benefit the powerful and the privileged," said Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
The White House was expected to celebrate congressional passage of the bill Wednesday afternoon. But Trump may wait until January to sign the bill, though, to avoid a tricky vote on automatic spending cuts, an aide said Wednesday morning.