Utah's congressional delegation votes for Republican tax overhaul

Utah's congressional delegation votes for Republican tax overhaul

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SALT LAKE CITY — All six members of Utah's congressional delegation voted for the massive Republican tax overhaul, saying the middle class will see bigger paychecks and lower taxes as early as next year.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, called the legislation "historic" and said that lawmakers have "done a pretty darn good job."

"This is a tax reform package that’s going to help people keep more of their money," he said. "No bill is perfect, but this is going to be a great boon to Utah families of all sizes and situations."

This legislation doubles the standard deduction, increases the child tax credit to $2,000, maintains mortgage interest tax deduction and cuts the corporate tax rate.

Hatch, the Senate Finance Committee chairman, was at the center of negotiations between the House and Senate on the final bill. He said the legislation is as important and far-reaching as anything he has worked on.

"It is beyond gratifying to see the Senate reach this point, and I look forward to finally seeing real tax reform legislation signed into law," the seven-term Senator said on the Senate floor late Tuesday.

The tax package could land on President Donald Trump's desk Wednesday. But the House-passed overhaul contained several provisions that violate procedural rules of the Senate, meaning the House will have to redo the vote before the bill reaches the president.

Democrat after Democrat railed against the legislation on the Senate floor late Tuesday night, calling the bill a "scam" and a "heist" to help wealthy corporations and individuals while hurting working-class people with ultimately higher taxes.

"What kind of middle class relief is that?" said Sen. Charles Schumer, R-N.Y., the Senate minority leader.

Republicans, he said, are "messing up America."

Hatch acknowledged that Republicans haven't done a good job of selling the plan because many Americans believe it's a big giveaway for the rich and average workers won't get a tax break.

"The proof is going to be in the paychecks," Hatch said on KSL Newsradio's "Doug Wright Show" earlier Tuesday. "The math is on our side here. The majority of families in Utah and around the country are going to see a tax cut."

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said the tax break is for everyone.

"Years down the road, I’m not afraid at all about the outcome," he said." I’m really confident the American people will say thank you."

Americans will see lower taxes, file simplified tax returns and see the economy grow, he said, adding that the catastrophes opponents predict won't come to pass.

Stewart said Democratic opposition and a "united press" are presenting a "dishonest" picture of the tax bill.

The legislation isn't like Obamacare where Democrats hid outcomes and delayed the most unappealing or obtuse parts because they knew Americans would resent them and disapprove, he said

"We feel exactly the opposite," Stewart said.

Hatch said he wished Democrats would have worked with the GOP on the plan.

"Our colleagues were apparently so preoccupied with denying President Trump and congressional Republicans any success that they chose not to engage and, instead, to sit in the peanut gallery throwing out baseless attacks," he said.

Hatch acknowledged that the middle-class tax cuts will be phased out in 10 years but that budget rules prevented lawmakers from making them permanent.

"That doesn't mean in the intervening 10 years we won't be working to make it even better," he said. "But even if that doesn't happen, Congress will not let these cuts sunset. In the meantime, families will see several years of tax cuts that they can save, invest or do whatever they please with."

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said he, too, would prefer long-term tax cuts.

"But not everything can be achieved exactly the way that we want it to, and so we’ll take what we can get sometimes," he said.

Lee was undecided about the bill until Monday, largely because the child tax credit was lower than he had wanted. He called bumping it up to $2,000 and making it refundable up to $1,400 a "phenomenal" development.

"Those hard-working families deserve a tax cut," he said, adding not all Americans pay federal income tax but all workers pay the payroll tax.

Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, who was elected in November, said GOP House members delivered on a promise to cut taxes for everyone and to simplify the burdensome tax code.

"The more people learn about this bill, the more they like it," he said.

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said as people start seeing changes in their paychecks and filling out their tax returns next year, they will realize the legislation "really is very pro-family, pro-middle class."

The plan will bring more jobs, fairer taxes and bigger paychecks, said Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah.

"This bill will also grow both the Utah and U.S. economy to make our businesses more competitive. Utahns will see higher wages, lower taxes, a simpler system and a stronger economy under this plan, and I’m proud to support it," she said.

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Dennis Romboy


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