“Somebody Screwed Up” – House Must Vote Again On Tax-Reform Plan After Procedural Snag
Update: In an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, Louisiana Senator John Kennedy offered the most honest explanation yet for the Senate Parliamentarian finding that three provisions in the final Trump tax bill violate Senate budget rules – meaning that the House will need to hold another vote on the bill.
“Somebody screwed up,” Kennedy said.
Still, Kennedy reiterated that observers shouldn’t read too much into the delay. Republicans have been scrambling to put the bill together and pass it before the end of the year – a notably tight deadline. Some exhausted staffer was probably responsible for the oversight, he suggested.
“We have the votes, we’ll have the votes tomorrow. If necessary, we’ll have the votes the day after that,” Kennedy said on MSNBC.
The Senate is still expected to vote on the bill Tuesday night after removing the offending provisions.
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In an embarassing reversal of what House Republicans had celebrated as a done deal, the House will need to vote again on the final version of the tax reform plan passed earlier this afternoon. The second vote is the result of a technicality in one of the bill’s provisions. According to Bloomberg, the Senate parliamentarian found three provisions in the final bill that violate the Byrd Rule, and the Senate will have to strip them from the bill before passing it, according to Bernie Sanders, the top Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee, and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, who had earlier hinted that he was looking into possible Byrd Rule violations.
Then the House will need to hold a second vote on the newly modified bill.
“It is our intention to raise a point of order to remove these provisions from the conference report and require the House to vote on this bill again,” Sanders said. The House now expects to take another vote on the tax bill tomorrow morning, according to email from majority leader’s office; that vote would clear the bill for Trump’s signature, assuming the Senate passes the bill with the required changes later this evening.
According to the Byrd Rule, lawmakers can challenge provisions in a bill if they would significantly add to the deficit. Democrats have identified three such provisions.
Republicans brushed off the delay as a minor inconvenience. Kevin Brady, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said they weren’t a big deal. However, Brady told CNBC that it’s unclear how this will impact the vote on the stopgap spending bill that must be passed before Friday at midnight or the federal government will enter a Christmas shutdown.
One of the provisions is related to a detail in the bill that would benefit a private college in Kentucky. Another would allow families to use tax-advantaged 529 accounts for home-schooling expenses, according to the Associated Press.
“Members are advised that we expect Senate Democrats to insist on a Byrd Point of Order on the Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 1, which is likely to be sustained,” said guidance from House Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s (R-La.) office, which was sent to GOP lawmakers, according to the Hill.
“As such, Members are further advised that an additional procedural vote on the Motion to Concur is expected tomorrow morning, which will clear the bill for President Trump’s signature,” his office added.
The second vote will likely take place on Wednesday, and is expected to pass, according to CNBC. However, the chance that the wheels could fall off at the last minute can never be ruled out.
Earlier, the House approved the tax plan in a 227-203 vote with 12 Republicans joining all the Democrats in opposition.