If Corker were the lone GOP dissenter, the bill would pass 51-49. They weighed scaling back the tax cuts in the legislation to secure crucial support. GOP leaders have been making major changes up to the last minute, including one that would roll back some of the tax cuts after six years to appease deficit hawks.
Trump has attacked Corker and Flake on Twitter. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona, who have been holding firm on deficit concerns. The legislation stalled late on Thursday when Senate rules prohibited adding a deficit-focused mechanism Corker had sought to add to the bill.
While it appears that McConnell may have already secured the necessary 50 votes (with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie) with the addition of Johnson and Daines, here are some GOP senators on the fence.
"We have the votes", Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters as he entered the chamber.
Flake said the "trigger" tax increases would raise about $350 billion over 10 years, though he didn't specify which taxes would go up. "If you're going to walk across a highwire you may be skilled and you may be able to do it, but it sure is nice to have a net under you", said James Lankford of Oklahoma, one of the "deficit hawks" who'd previously worked toward the trigger with Corker.
Corker has pushed to add automatic tax increases in future years if the package doesn't raise as much revenue as projected.
The analysis complicated Trump's argument, shared by many Republicans, that the tax cuts would pay for themselves through additional economic growth.
"Other countries have learned how to use their tax codes to entice USA businesses overseas, businesses around the globe, to their country - to move away from the United States to their countries' more competitive tax code", Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado said.
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Unlike the tax bill passed by the House two weeks ago, the Senate measure would end the requirement in President Barack Obama's health care law that people pay a tax penalty if they don't buy health insurance.
Some Democrats agreed that USA corporate taxes should be lowered, but insisted the Republican plan goes too far and would eventually trigger painful cuts to federal programs that benefit the poor and elderly in the future. The pass-through deduction, a major concern for Senators Daines and Ron Johnson, has been moved to 23 percent from 17.4 percent, according to CNBC. President Trump has said he wants to sign a bill by Christmas.
On Thursday night, leadership waved away a report from Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation that came to the opposite conclusion, detailing why the bill would cost the government $1 trillion even with economic growth. That's far short of the $2 trillion promised by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Earlier Thursday, Sen. John McCain announced he would vote for the bill, giving it a better chance of passage. Another bill sponsored by her and Sen.
"That is something I have to have in the bill", Collins said.
Several Republicans were withholding support while pushing for including a federal deduction for up to $10,000 in state and local property taxes and bigger tax breaks for "pass-through" companies, including small businesses. The House approved its own tax bill on November 16.
The trigger amendment was needed to win Corker's vote and those of others anxious about the deficit - worries that intensified when congressional analysts said the bill would not boost the economy enough to offset the estimated deficit expansion, as the Trump administration had said it would.