GOP Sen. Daines a 'no' on tax bill, seeks more cuts for small businesses

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Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) is officially a “no” on the Senate’s tax reform bill after he voiced his concerns with President Donald Trump on Sunday, FOX Business has learned.

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Daines joins the rank of Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) as the Senate Republicans who are against the bill as it’s crafted. “The Senator has concerns regarding the current bill and how it unfairly favors large corporations over Main Street businesses, a.k.a. pass throughs,” said one aide familiar with the matter. “He is a ‘no’ on the bill but optimistic about making changes,” the same aide added.

His sudden call for changes to the bill could be a problem for a Republican Senate that is in dire need of a win and as leadership hopes to cobble together enough support to call for a vote in the coming weeks. Since the GOP only have a slim 52-48 majority in the Senate, they can’t afford to lose more than two votes if they want to pass their signature tax reform plan.

Daines’s concerns with the negative impact the bill could have on small businesses may be justified because while there is a provision within the legislative text that allows owners of partnerships, limited liability companies and various other pass-through companies to get a 17.4% reduction on their business income taxes, Johnson isn’t convinced that it’s enough of a cut.

In a statement to FOX Business, Daines confirmed he could not support the bill in its current form and reinforced that he needs to see changes to small business tax cuts if Senate leadership want his vote.

“I want to see changes to the tax cut bill that ensure Main Street businesses are not put at a competitive disadvantage against large corporations. … Before I can support this bill, this improvement needs to be made,” Daines said.

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A White House spokesman did not return emails for comment about the discussion between Trump and Daines.

While Johnson and Daines are officially “no” votes and could be swayed to back the tax bill, there are other undecided lawmakers that could derail the Republican tax plan. Micah Johnson, a spokeswoman for Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), told FOX Business in a statement that while Corker is “hopeful” he can get to “yes,” he still believes that some work needs to be done. 

“Senator Corker spent the entire Thanksgiving break on the phone with his Senate colleagues and with the administration working on a responsible path forward. While more work remains, all parties are hopeful that the final bill will be good for our country,” Johnson said.

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Another unknown lawmaker is Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who continues to be concerned the bill could add to the national debt.

When asked where Flake stands on tax reform, his spokesman Jason Samuels said “he remains concerned about the bill’s impact on the national debt.”

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