WASHINGTON – The US House of Representatives approved on Thursday a tax reform bill that includes the major cut in corporate levies demanded by President Donald Trump.
The vote was 227-205, as 13 Republicans joined the entire Democratic minority in opposing the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”
Most of the Republican dissidents represent New Jersey, New York and California, where many residents would see their federal tax bill increase under the bill, which reduces deductions for state and local taxes.
The legislation contemplates $1.5 trillion in tax cuts for businesses and individuals.
“What we’re doing here is not just determining the kind of tax code we’re going to have, what we’re doing is determining the kind of country we are going to have,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, one of the drafters of the bill, said before the vote.
The legislation provides “real relief” to middle-income families, the Wisconsin Republican said.
Speaking for the Democrats, California’s Nancy Pelosi accused Republicans of bringing forth “a bill that is pillaging the middle class to pad the pockets of the wealthiest and hand tax breaks to corporations shipping jobs out of America.”
Passage of the bill represents a triumph for Ryan and for Trump, who met with Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill earlier Thursday.
In the Senate, meanwhile, Republicans have yet to reach consensus on their version of the tax overhaul. Some GOP members have come out publicly against the proposals being discussed by the leadership.
With a majority of only two seats in the Senate, Republicans can’t afford too many defections.
The House bill slashes the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, while reducing the number of tax brackets for individuals from seven to four, with a maximum rate of 39.6 percent.
Another provision would phase out the inheritance tax, a levy that applies only to estates exceeding $5.6 million.
Republicans have long complained about the 35-percent corporate rate, but David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who specializes in business and economics reporting, has determined that the largest US firms, using a wide array of fully legal accounting mechanisms, already pay at an actual rate far below 20 percent.