The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted to begin the final process of debate on the Republican attempt to overhaul the federal tax code. The procedural step, called a motion to proceed, passed the Senate on a party-line vote of 52 to 48.
The Senate will allow 20 hours of debate on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act before what's called a vote-a-rama. The vote-a-rama, in which senators can introduce as many amendments to the bill as they want, is expected Thursday night.
After the amendment process, which Democrats will attempt to use to slow down the bill, there will be a final vote. The current timeline sets up a final vote sometime on Friday.
News reports say the tweaked Senate tax bill would increase the income tax deduction for pass-through businesses to 20 percent from 17.4 percent. It would not change the headline rate at which those entities' income is taxed.
The change appears to be designed to earn support from Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Steve Daines, R-Mont. Both senators argued that pass-through businesses would not get as much relief as corporations under the Senate plan.
Wednesday the New York Times pulled out all the stops, in its ongoing effort to defeat tax reform. Urging readers to contact their senators and lobby against the Republican tax bill in a series of tweets from its opinion account.
The House version eliminates the estate tax. The Senate version doubles the threshold, making the first $11 million of inheritance free of estate taxes.
“I personally favor that one,” says Iowa Senator Charles Grassley. “Doubling the amount will help most family farmers.” Grassley sits on the Senate Ag Committee and is a senior member of both the Budget and Finance committees. He made his remarks in his weekly Capitol Hill Report.
Furthermore, the plan offers a special credit to farms and small businesses. A portion of business income, 17.4%, would be taxed at a rate lower than the individual income tax rate. “This is essentially a tax credit for taking the capital risk,” Grassley explains.