Vice President Mike Pence has delayed his trip to Israel and Egypt in case he needs to cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate when it comes time to vote on the GOP tax bill.
Pence was set to leave on Tuesday, but will instead depart in January, his office said. Alyssa Farah, Pence's press secretary, said in a statement the vice president is "committed to seeing the tax cut through to the finish line." Republicans have stated they are certain they have enough votes to pass the tax overhaul, despite having just a 52-48 majority and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) likely missing the vote. They are hoping to have a vote sometime this week.
White House officials told CNN delaying Pence's trip had nothing to do with anger over President Trump deciding the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was scheduled to meet with Pence, but canceled after Trump's announcement, and it's unclear if Pence will try to book another meeting with him, officials said. Catherine Garcia
Republican leaders said Sunday that they expected the House and the Senate to pass their joint tax overhaul this week in time for President Trump to sign it before Christmas, as promised. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the GOP whip, said on ABC's This Week that he was "confident" the Senate would pass the bill, as early as Tuesday. He said the legislation would "get the economy roaring back again" and give "everybody in every tax bracket a tax cut. So this is good news any way you cut it."
The vote promises to be tight, however. Republicans have a narrow 52-48 majority in the Senate, and Sen. John McCain plans to return to Arizona for the holidays after being hospitalized last week for what his office described as "normal side effects of his ongoing cancer therapy," meaning he will likely miss the vote. Harold Maass
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) could complicate things for the Republicans as they try to pass their tax overhaul, having told reporters on Thursday he won't support the legislation unless it increases the refundable portion of the child tax credit.
Senate and House Republicans say they have reached an agreement on a tax bill, which lowers the corporate tax rate to 21 percent and top individual tax rate from 39.6 to 37 percent, and are just ironing out the final details. As it stands now, the bill sets the child tax credit at $2,000 per child, and Rubio wants it to be refundable against both payroll and income taxes. He "can't in good conscience support" the legislation unless this happens, Rubio said, adding, "There's a way to do it, and we'll be very reasonable." Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has said he agrees with Rubio on the child tax credit issue.
The GOP can only afford to lose two votes in the Senate, but several GOP aides and lawmakers told Politico they believe Rubio will come around before a final vote, which they hope happens next week. "The goal is to get a $2,000 per child tax credit with a significant portion of that to be refundable," Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said. "I think Sen. Rubio would like to see us do a little more and we're trying to work with him." Catherine Garcia