The Latest: Senate panel approves tax overhaul bill

Markets Associated Press

The Latest on House consideration of the tax overhaul (all times local):

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10:22 p.m.

The Senate's Republican-led tax panel has moved toward ending the Affordable Care Act's requirement that everyone in the U.S. have health insurance.

The repeal of the so-called individual mandate is part of a GOP tax cut bill that's a top priority for President Donald Trump and the Republicans.

The Finance Committee voted 14-12 along party lines to approve the tax overhaul bill and send it to the full Senate for anticipated passage the week after next.

The move came several hours after the House voted 227-205 to pass its version of the $1.5 trillion overhaul legislation.

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Like the House bill, the Senate measure would slash the corporate tax rate and reduce personal income tax rates for many.

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8:20 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence says "now the ball is in the Senate's court," after the House voted Thursday to approve a $1.5 trillion overhaul of the nation's tax code.

At the Tax Foundation's 80th annual dinner in Washington, Pence said, "The next few weeks are going to be vitally important and they're going to be a challenge." But he said, "we're going to get it done" before the end of the year. Pence was being awarded the foundation's distinguished service award.

Pence is endorsing the Senate effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act individual mandate as part of its own tax reform plan.

He said: "While we're at it, we're going to cut taxes on working Americans when we repeal the Obamacare individual mandate tax in this tax reform bill."

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8:15 p.m.

The Senate's tax-writing committee has plowed through Democrats' efforts to modify a major Republican tax bill, spiking a battery of amendments. They included a proposal to make the personal income-tax cuts in the bill permanent rather than ending them in 2026.

The GOP-led Senate Finance Committee voted 14-12 on party lines to defeat the amendments as it neared a final vote on the overall bill. The series of votes, marked by sometimes fierce partisan debate, consumed most of the panel's fourth day of work on the tax overhaul legislation.

At the same time, the House passed its version of the $1.5 trillion overhaul legislation on a 227-205 vote.

Other Democratic amendments defeated by the Senate panel included proposals to restore the current $4,050 personal exemption and to expand the child tax credit.

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6:50 p.m.

Republicans have forced a $1.5 trillion overhaul of business and personal income taxes through the House.

The mostly party-line 227-205 vote masked more ominous problems in the Senate. There, a similar package has received a politically awkward verdict from nonpartisan congressional analysts, showing it would eventually produce higher taxes for low- and middle-income earners but deep reductions for those better off.

Those projections came a day after Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson became the first GOP senator to state opposition to the measure. With at least five other Republican senators yet to declare support, the bill's fate is far from certain in a chamber the GOP controls by just 52-48.

Even so, Republicans are hoping to send a compromise bill for Trump to sign by Christmas.

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3:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump calls the House passage of the $1.5 trillion tax package "a big step" toward delivering on the Republican Party's promise of tax cuts by year's end.

Trump tweets his approval of the legislation, calling it "a big step toward fulfilling our promise to deliver historic TAX CUTS for the American people by the end of the year!" The House passed the bill Thursday by a 227 to 205 margin, with only Republican votes in favor.

Senate Republicans are debating their own version of the tax legislation in the more sharply divided chamber. Trump has said he wants to deliver a "Christmas present" in the form of tax cuts.

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3:28 p.m.

President Donald Trump talked about his efforts to release three American basketball players from detention in China as he rallied House Republicans before a crucial vote on tax reform. Trump also offered other details on his Asia trip and urged Congress to address welfare reform.

Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas says Trump started his 30-minute session with Republicans by talking about his trip to Asia, including his efforts to release three UCLA basketball players who were detained following shoplifting allegations before a game in Shanghai.

Womack says Trump "personally engaged the Chinese president and it turned out the way it did," with the players being released. He said China is known for being "extremely punitive" with criminal suspects, adding: "This could have been a disaster for those families."

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1:50 p.m.

The House has passed a sweeping Republican tax bill cutting taxes for corporations and many people. It puts GOP leaders closer to delivering to President Donald Trump a crucial legislative achievement after nearly a year of failures.

The House voted 227-205 along party lines to approve the bill, which would bring the biggest revamp of the U.S. tax system in three decades.

Most of the House bill's reductions would go to business. Both the Senate and House would slash the 35 percent corporate tax rate to 20 percent and reduce levies on millions of partnerships and certain corporations, including many small businesses.

Personal income tax rates for many would be reduced through some deductions, and credits would be reduced or eliminated. But projected federal deficits would grow by $1.5 trillion over the coming decade.

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12:15 p.m.

Democrats are using new projections by Congress' nonpartisan tax analysts to call the Senate Republican tax bill a boon to the wealthy that boosts middle-income families' taxes.

The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that starting in 2021, many families earning less than $30,000 would have tax increases under the bill. By 2027, families earning up to $75,000 would face higher levies, while those earning more would get tax cuts.

Republicans say the new calculations reflect two provisions in the bill.

The Senate measure ends personal income tax cuts beginning in 2026 because Republicans needed to reduce the bill's costs to obey the chamber's budget rules.

It also abolishes the requirement under former President Barack Obama's health care law that people buy insurance. That means fewer people getting federally subsidized coverage — which analysts consider a tax boost.

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11:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump has arrived at the Capitol to encourage House Republicans who are about to push a $1.5 trillion tax package through their chamber.

The closed-door meeting comes as GOP leaders hope that by Christmas, they will give Trump and themselves their first legislative triumph this year.

House approval was expected later Thursday of the plan to slash corporate tax rates and reduce personal income tax rates while eliminating some deductions and credits.

The Senate Finance Committee is aiming to pass its separate version by week's end. But some GOP senators want changes.

Republicans say the final measure will bestow lower levies on millions of Americans and spur economic growth by reducing business taxes. Democrats say the measure is disproportionately tilted toward corporations and the wealthy.

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10:45 a.m.

Republicans drove a $1.5 trillion tax overhaul toward House passage Thursday. But Senate GOP dissenters also emerged in a sign that party leaders have problems to resolve before Congress can give President Donald Trump his first legislative triumph.

Trump was heading to the Capitol for a pep rally with House Republicans, shortly before the chamber was expected to approve the measure over solid Democratic opposition. There were just a handful of GOP opponents in the House, unhappy because the measure sharply curbs deductions for state and local taxes, but all agreed that passage seemed certain.

Like a similar package nearing approval by the GOP-led Senate Finance Committee, most of the House measure's reductions would go to business. Personal income tax rates for many would be reduced, but some deductions and credits would be reduced or eliminated. Federal deficits would grow by $1.5 trillion over the coming decade.