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Marco Rubio now a 'yes,' gives major boost to GOP tax plan

Posted at 9:12 AM, Dec 15, 2017

UPDATE | Republican Sen. Marco Rubio will vote for his party’s $1.5 trillion tax bill. That gives a major boost to the prospects that GOP leaders will be able to push their prized measure through Congress next week.

The Florida lawmaker had said he’d oppose the legislation unless his colleagues made the per child tax credit more generous for low-income families.

On Friday, Republicans said the final legislation would do just that. Lawmakers said the bill would now let low-earners using the credit get up to $1,400 in IRS refunds if they owe little or no taxes. That’s up from $1,100 in the earlier version.

Rubio tweeted that the change is “a solid step toward broader reforms which are both Pro-Growth and Pro-Worker.”

Rubio spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said that meant he’d vote yes.


The tax bill compromise reached by House and Senate negotiators now won't be unveiled until Monday. And at least one new Republican defector may make it difficult for Congressional Republicans to get the measure to President Donald Trump's desk before his Christmas deadline.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tells ABC News that he is a “no,” unless the bill is changed to include a larger expansion of the child tax credit. It's currently set at $2,000 per child but only refundable up to $1,100.

“Unless they figure out a way to increase the refundable part, higher than $1,100, the way they figured out a way to give corporations an extra year of cuts, the way they figured out a way to lower the top rate for a family making a million dollars a year...Unless they figure out a way to add to the $1,100 figure, I won’t support the bill,” Rubio said.

Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah also has serious concerns about the bill for the same reason, his office confirms.

Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn. also opposes the plan. He was the lone Republican to oppose the original Senate bill, and he says his “deficit concerns have not been alleviated.”

Senate Republicans can only afford to lose two votes and pass the measure along party-lines. Three "no" votes will sink the effort.

The potential absence of Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., could further complicate the bill's chances. McCain, who is undergoing treatment for an aggressive form of brain cancer, was not at work Thursday in the U.S. Senate. His office reported that he is "receiving treatment at Walter Reed Medical Center for normal side effects of his ongoing cancer therapy."

John McCain described as increasingly frail, Senate sources say

House Speaker Paul Ryan said that considerations of absences in the Senate could impact which chamber takes the first votes.

“There is discussion about this," Ryan said. "It's all about timing and managing absences in the Senate.”

GOP leaders, however, are still optimistic that they will get this done.

Asked if he’s confident this will pass, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, responded with just one word: “yes.”

The final conference report with full details is expected to be unveiled by Republican negotiators Monday--teeing the measure up for a vote in both chambers next week.

Here is what ABC News has learned will be included in that bill:

FOR BUSINESSES -- Corporate rate will be cut to 21 percent, down from 35 percent under current law. This is expected to take effect in 2018.

-- Corporate Alternative Minimum Tax will be “rolled back” according to Sen. John Cornyn – but not repealed.


-- Top individual rate will be cut to 37 percent, down from 39.6 percent under current law.

-- Individual Alternative Minimum Tax exemption will be increased to $500k for individuals, $1 million for couples filing jointly. That’s up from $54,300 for individuals, and $84,500 for couples filing jointly under 2017 law.


-- Standard deduction will be increased from $12,700 to $24,400 for joint returns and from $6,350 to $12,000 for individuals. According to the Tax Policy Center, more than two-thirds of Americans take the standard deduction when filing taxes.

-- Repeal of the individual mandate requiring health insurance. According to CBO, repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate insurance could lead to 13 million more Americans without health insurance, while saving the government $338 billion in federal health insurance subsidy payments over the next decade.


-- State and local tax deductions will be capped at $10,000 combined from any/all categories (property/income/sales taxes). Current law caps property tax deduction at $1 million. There are no current caps on state/local income tax deduction.

-- Mortgage interest deduction will be capped at $750,000, down from $1 million under current law.

-- Graduate school stipend deduction (tax-free tuition waivers) will be preserved.

-- Student loan interest deduction will be preserved.

--- Medical expense deduction is preserved. It allows Americans to deduct medical expenses not covered by insurance that exceed 10 percent of adjusted gross income.

-- Child Tax Credit preserved. That’s currently set at $2,000 per child but only refundable up to $1,100. It remains to be seen whether Rubio's push to increase that will be reflected in the final bill.

The tax overhaul process has moved at a breakneck pace as Republicans try to pass a massive tax cut for businesses and many American families before Christmas and the end of the year. Many lawmakers and their staffs have been scrambling to digest drafts of the bill and what it means for everyday Americans.

The cost of the measure remains another lingering question. The negotiators still need to work with the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) to secure a final score on the bill's cost.