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Rubio a No Vote Over Child Tax Credit  12/15 06:17

   Republican Marco Rubio's potential defection over a tax credit for 
low-income parents put a speed bump into GOP leaders' drive to push their big 
tax package through the Senate, but it's a complication that's likely to be 
resolved.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican Marco Rubio's potential defection over a tax 
credit for low-income parents put a speed bump into GOP leaders' drive to push 
their big tax package through the Senate, but it's a complication that's likely 
to be resolved.

   The Florida senator declared Thursday that he'll vote against the $1.5 
trillion bill unless House and Senate negotiators expand the tax credit that 
low-income Americans can claim for their children.

   That puts the Republicans' razor-thin margin in the Senate closer to the 
edge. The GOP leaders are straining to muscle the bill through Congress next 
week, handing President Donald Trump his first major legislative victory by 
Christmas.

   Senate Republicans could still pass the package without Rubio's vote, but 
they would be cutting it extremely close. An original version was approved 
51-49 --- with Rubio's support. The co-sponsor of Rubio's proposed change, 
Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, is undecided on the overall bill and is 
pushing to make the credit as generous as possible, said Lee spokesman Conn 
Carroll.

   The Senate turmoil erupted the same day that a key faction of House 
Republicans came out in favor of the bill, boosting its chances. Members of the 
conservative House Freedom Caucus predicted the vast majority of their members 
would support the package.

   The up-and-down turns came a day after House and Senate Republican leaders 
forged an agreement in principle on the most sweeping overhaul of the nation's 
tax laws in more than 30 years. The package would give generous tax cuts to 
corporations and the wealthiest Americans, and more modest tax cuts to low- and 
middle-income families.

   Republican leaders predicted swift passage next week, sending the bill to 
Trump for his signature.

   At the White House, Trump said he was confident that Rubio will get onboard.

   "He's really been a great guy and very supportive. I think that Sen. Rubio 
will be there," said Trump, who belittled Rubio during the 2016 GOP 
presidential primaries, calling him "little Marco."

   The tax package would double the per-child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000. 
The bill makes a portion of the credit --- $1,100 --- available to families 
even if they owe no income tax. They would receive the money in the form of a 
tax refund, which is why it's called a "refundable" tax credit. Rubio wants to 
increase this amount but wouldn't say by how much.

   "Given all the other changes they made in the tax code leading into it, I 
can't in good conscience support it unless we are able to increase the 
refundable portion of it. And there's ways to do it, and we'll be very 
reasonable about it," Rubio said.

   During debate on the Senate version of the bill, Rubio proposed a change 
that would have made the entire $2,000 credit available to families, even if 
they owe no income tax, but it was soundly defeated. To pay for the expanded 
credit, he proposed to slightly scale back a steep cut in the corporate income 
tax rate.

   A few days after the earlier Senate vote, Rubio tweeted a link to a news 
story that said GOP leaders were indeed considering scaling back the corporate 
tax cut --- but not to pay for an expanded child tax credit.

   "They freaked out when I proposed small reduction in Corporate tax cut to 
pay for cut for working families. Now this?" Rubio tweeted.

   The final package slashes the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. 
The initial Senate and House bills had set it at 20 percent.

   Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said Senate negotiators got the best deal they 
could on the overall child tax credit. House GOP negotiators were proposing a 
$1,600 tax credit.

   "We won everything in the child tax credit," Portman said. When asked if it 
could be changed further to appease Rubio, Portman said: "We've already won. I 
mean, we should celebrate our victory."

   Rubio's opposition comes at a bad time for Senate Republicans, with two of 
them missing votes this week because of illness.

   John McCain of Arizona, who is 81, is at a Washington-area military hospital 
being treated for the side effects of brain cancer treatment, and 80-year-old 
Thad Cochran of Mississippi had a non-melanoma lesion removed from his nose 
earlier this week. GOP leaders are hopeful they will be available next week.


(KA)

 
 
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