Tax bill advances, final Senate vote uncertain
A key Senate committee advanced a sweeping tax package to the full Senate on Tuesday, handing Republican leaders a victory as they try to pass the nation's first tax overhaul in 31 years.
The Senate Budget Committee voted 12-11 to advance the bill as two committee Republicans who had said they were considering voting against the measure — Bob Corker of Tennessee and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin — backed the legislation.
President Donald Trump personally lobbied Republican senators at the Capitol on Tuesday and the bill passed with little fanfare other than a few protesters who tried to disrupt the vote. All 11 Democrats were opposed.
The White House celebrated the vote.
"The momentum driving our shared priorities of job growth, economic competiveness, and fiscal responsibility through tax reform is undeniable," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
Trump said Tuesday he "would absolutely blame the Democrats" if the temporary spending bill expires and causes a government shutdown next week.
Congress' top Democratic leaders abruptly pulled out of a planned meeting with Trump and Republican leaders at the White House on Tuesday after Trump attacked them on Twitter.
Trump said as he meets with Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and the House's top Democrat, Nancy Pelosi, are weak on crime and combating illegal immigration and want to increase taxes.
As a sweetener for some Republicans, the budget committee added a provision to the tax bill that would allow oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Drilling in the refuge has long been a contentious issue, pitting environmentalists against those who want to increase domestic oil production.
The bill still faces hurdles in the Senate with at least six senators raising sometimes contradicting concerns.
It got a boost Tuesday when Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, won support to amend the bill to allow homeowners to deduct at least a portion of their local property taxes on their federal tax returns.
The current Senate bill repeals the entire state and local tax deduction, which helps more than 43 million families re