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GOP tax bill clears Congress, heads to Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Congress and sweeping tax cut legislation (all times local):

Republicans in Congress have delivered an epic overhaul of U.S. tax laws to President Donald Trump, bringing generous tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans, and billions to be added to the national debt.

The $1.5 trillion package, billed as a huge boon for the middle class and a spark to economic growth, provides smaller tax cuts for middle- and low-income families.

The GOP-dominated House voted -- a second time -- along party lines on Wednesday to approve the complex legislation, following a narrow vote after midnight in the Senate.

The measure slashes the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. The tax cuts for business are permanent, but reductions for individuals and families expire after a decade. The standard deduction used by around two-thirds of Americans will nearly double to $24,000 for married couples.
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12:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump is celebrating the GOP tax legislation, claiming it fulfills his campaign promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Speaking during a Cabinet meeting, he says: "Obamacare has been repealed in this bill."

But the bill only repeals the individual mandate, which imposes a tax penalty for failing to purchase health insurance — a significant, but small part of the law — rather than the extensive legislation passed by his predecessor.

Trump-backed GOP efforts to undo the health care legislation failed repeatedly earlier this year, and congressional lawmakers are debating needed fixes to the bill to stabilize the individual marketplace.
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11:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump is promising a news conference Wednesday afternoon after House Republicans take the final vote to approve the GOP tax cut bill.

Speaking before a Cabinet meeting, Trump calls the expected passage a "historic victory for the American people."

Trump will host Congressional Republicans at the White House to celebrate the first major legislative victory of his administration.

Trump says the official signing ceremony will follow at a later date.
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11:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump is congratulating Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on his work passing the Republican tax bill.

In a tweet Wednesday morning, Trump says McConnell did "a fantastic job both strategically & politically on the passing in the Senate of the MASSIVE TAX CUT & Reform Bill."

He adds: "I could have not asked for a better or more talented partner. Our team will go onto many more VICTORIES!"

The Senate voted early Wednesday to approve the measure, which cuts corporate and individual taxes. The House is expected to pass the legislation a final time Wednesday, sending it to Trump's desk for signature.
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9:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump says the "Fake News" media is "working overtime" to "only demean" tax cuts he's long said will be the biggest in history.

Trump tweeted Wednesday: "The Tax Cuts are so large and so meaningful, and yet the Fake News is working overtime to follow the lead of their friends, the defeated Dems, and only demean. This is truly a case where the results will speak for themselves, starting very soon. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!"

Democrats have criticized the package as a giveaway to corporations and the rich. Republicans argue it will spur economic growth and create jobs.

The Republican-controlled Senate narrowly passed the bill on a party line 51-48 vote after midnight. The House must vote a second time Wednesday due to procedural issues.

Trump plans a White House event with lawmakers following the House action.
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9:40 a.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump will hold an event with lawmakers after the expected passage of a sweeping rewrite of the nation's tax laws.

Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump will take part in a "bill passage event" at the White House with members of the House and Senate at 3 p.m.

Sanders said it would not be a signing event. She said "the bill would still need to be enrolled and that will happen at a later date."
The president is eager to claim his first major legislative victory. The Senate narrowly passed the legislation on a party-line 51-48 vote after midnight. The House must vote a second time on Wednesday due to procedural issues.
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7:15 a.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is acknowledging "nobody knows" if the sweeping tax cuts Congress is enacting will produce enough economic growth to fend off soaring federal deficits.

Making the rounds of morning television news shows, the Wisconsin Republican known as a deficit hawk suggested it's a risk that Republicans are willing to take. He tells NBC's "Today" show America hasn't had a 3 percent annual growth rate since the Great Recession of 2008.

"What we're trying to do here is give relief to hard-working families," Ryan says. "We need fast economic growth. We need help for people living paycheck to paycheck."He says the aim of the $1.5 trillion tax cut is to keep businesses in the United States, saying the relocations overseas "is a trend that has to be reversed."

Asked about estimates that the tax cut could add $1.46 trillion to the national debt over 10 years, he replied, "Nobody knows the answer to that question."
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3:50 a.m.

Jubilant Republicans pushed on early Wednesday to the verge of the most sweeping rewrite of the nation's tax laws in more than three decades, a deeply unpopular bill they insist Americans will learn to love when they see their paychecks in the new year. President Donald Trump cheered the lawmakers on, eager to claim his first major legislative victory.

After midnight, the Senate narrowly passed the legislation on a party-line 51-48 vote. Protesters interrupted with chants of "kill the bill, don't kill us" and Vice President Mike Pence repeatedly called for order. Upon passage, Republicans cheered, with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin among them.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., insisted Americans would respond positively to the tax bill.
"If we can't sell this to the American people, we ought to go into another line of work," he said.


12:46 a.m.

Senate Republicans have passed the most sweeping rewrite of the nation’s tax laws in more than three decades, setting the stage for a final House vote Wednesday.

The House passed the bill earlier Tuesday. But the Senate had to make minor changes so the bill would comply with Senate budget rules.

The Senate vote was 51-48 on early Wednesday, with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats opposed.

Rewriting the tax code has been a longtime goal of Republicans and an effort championed by President Donald Trump.

Democrats complain that the package is a giveaway to corporations and the rich.

The tax cuts total nearly $1.5 trillion over the next decade and would take effect in January. Workers would start to see changes in the amount of taxes withheld from their paychecks in February.

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12:41 a.m.

Protesters chanting “kill the bill, don’t kill us” interrupted the Senate vote on passage of the tax bill.

Visitors in the Senate gallery stood up shortly after the vote began and started chanting on early Wednesday. Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding, stopped and repeatedly called on the sergeant at arms to restore order in the gallery.

The vote took place with a heavy U.S. Capitol Police presence outside the chamber in expectation of the protests.

Demonstrators had interrupted the House debate on the bill earlier in the day.

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12:30 a.m.

The Senate has voted to strip three elements from the Republican tax bill that were deemed to violate Senate rules.

The vote was 51-48 early Wednesday. The finding by the Senate’s parliamentarian on the three minor elements was a temporary speed bump in the $1.5 trillion tax bill’s trajectory toward passage and President Donald Trump’s signature.

The Republican-controlled House passed the bill on a 227-203 party-line vote earlier Tuesday, but will have to vote again Wednesday. That will send the sweeping legislation to Trump to sign it into law.

Democrats say the provisions that triggered the glitch include language that would allow families to use tax-advantaged college savings accounts for the costs of home-schooling children.

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4:50 p.m.

Democrats say three provisions in the Republican $1.5 trillion tax bill violate Senate rules and will likely be removed before that chamber votes on the measure.

The House approved the legislation Tuesday. But this means the House will have to vote again on the legislation once it's been amended and approved by the Senate.

Senate passage was expected Tuesday night or early Wednesday. GOP House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's office says the House would reconsider the bill Wednesday morning and send it to President Donald Trump for his signature.

Democrats said the Senate parliamentarian had found three items that violated Senate rules.

These included one provision that would let families use tax-advantaged 529 accounts for home-schooling expenses.

The problem was revealed by Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden.

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3:50 p.m.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (skuh-LEES') says the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee should retain his position even though he voted against the GOP tax overhaul, the most important vote of the year to Republican leaders.

Scalise says New Jersey Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (FREE'-ling-hy-zehn) long ago informed GOP leaders that he opposed the bill because of its impact on high-tax states such as New Jersey. Frelinghuysen voted against the bill Tuesday, leading some House conservatives to say he should be replaced as Appropriations chair.

Scalise called that an overreaction, saying Frelinghuysen is "doing a really good job in a tough position" on Appropriations.

Scalise praised an emergency spending bill largely crafted by Frelinghuysen that will offer $81 billion in emergency aid to states hard-hit by hurricanes and wildfires.

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3:45 p.m.

A sweeping tax package speeding its way through Congress has cleared a key procedural vote in the Senate.

The Senate voted 51-48 to begin debating the bill. The House passed the bill Tuesday afternoon and the Senate is expected to pass it Tuesday evening, sending it to President Donald Trump for his signature.

The $1.5 trillion package would provide steep tax cuts for businesses and the wealthy and more modest cuts for middle- and low-income families. The business tax cuts would take effect in January. Workers would start to see changes in the amount of taxes withheld from their paychecks in February.

The bill would nearly double the standard deduction used by most taxpayers, while those who itemize would lose some deductions

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3:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump is celebrating the House's passage of sweeping Republican tax legislation on Twitter.

Trump in a tweet is congratulating House Speaker Paul Ryan along with Reps. Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and what he said were "all great House Republicans who voted in favor of cutting your taxes!"

The $1.5 trillion package would provide steep tax cuts for businesses and the wealthy and more modest cuts for middle- and low-income families.

The bill is now headed to the Senate for an expected vote Tuesday evening.

It's Trump's first major legislative win to date.

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2:05 p.m.

The House has passed the most sweeping rewrite of the nation's tax laws in more than three decades. The bill now goes to the Senate for an expected vote Tuesday evening.

The House approved the bill by a mostly party line vote of 227-203. The bill represents the first major legislative victory for President Donald Trump.

The $1.5 trillion package would provide steep tax cuts for businesses and the wealthy and more modest cuts for middle- and low-income families. The business tax cuts would take effect in January. Workers would start to see changes in the amount of taxes withheld from their paychecks in February.

The bill would nearly double the standard deduction used by most taxpayers, while those who itemize would lose some deductions.

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2 p.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is hailing the Republican tax package, saying "today, we give the people of this country their money back."

Ryan was wrapping up debate on the House floor on Tuesday ahead of the vote on the $1.5 trillion tax package. It was the realization of Ryan's yearslong work on tax policy.

Protesters disagreed.

On woman yelled from the visitors' gallery: "You're lying. You're lying. Only rich will benefit." She was escorted out of the chamber by Capitol Police.

Another woman told the Wisconsin Republican he needs to learn math.

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1:50 p.m.

Several protesters have briefly disrupted House debate on the tax bill, yelling, "kill the bill. Don't kill us."

Police removed the demonstrators from the visitors' gallery and debate proceeded, with Republicans and Democrats alternating in speaking about the $1.5 trillion package.

Several Democratic lawmakers applauded. The last protester escorted out of the gallery nodded toward the Democrats and said, "thank you." Republicans did not applaud, but several could be seen smiling.

The House was expected to pass the bill shortly.

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12:05 p.m.

A sweeping tax package speeding its way through Congress has cleared a key procedural vote in the House.

The House approved the rule to begin debating the bill by a mostly party line vote of 233-193. The House is on track to pass the bill Tuesday afternoon, sending it to the Senate for an expected vote Tuesday evening.

The $1.5 trillion package would provide steep tax cuts for businesses and the wealthy and more modest cuts for middle- and low-income families. The business tax cuts would take effect in January. Workers would start to see changes in the amount of taxes withheld from their paychecks in February.

The bill would nearly double the standard deduction used by most taxpayers, which those who itemize would lose some deductions.

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10:25 a.m.

Gleeful House Republicans are taking a victory lap ahead of expected passage of their tax package.

At a news conference Tuesday morning, members of the GOP hailed the bill that would slash taxes for businesses and the wealthy while offering modest cuts for other Americans.

Republicans argue that corporations, flush with cash, will create more jobs and boost the economy.

Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters: "This is the greatest example of a promise being made and a promise being kept."

Ryan rejected polling that shows the bill is widely unpopular. He insisted that "results are going to make this popular."

Ryan was joined by other members of the House GOP leadership who called the day historic and praised the legislation.

The House was expected to vote around 2 p.m. The Senate is expected to vote Tuesday evening.

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8:45 a.m.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the tax overhaul legislation facing votes today in Congress is a "huge deal for America."

Speaking on "Fox and Friends" Tuesday, Sanders said, "Today is a huge day, not just for the White House, not just for Congress but most importantly for America."

Sanders said middle class Americans will "see the biggest benefit out of this tax package."

The sweeping $1.5 trillion tax bill slashes the tax rate for corporations from 35 percent to 21 percent and reduces taxes on the wealthiest Americans, while making more modest tax reductions for most others.

It's not expected to win any Democratic votes. Speaking in front of the White House, she said Democratic lawmakers should have been "banging down the door of the building behind me to be part of this process."

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6:40 a.m.

President Donald Trump is hailing the performance of the stock market as the House and Senate brace for votes that majority Republicans are confident will produce the most far-reaching overhaul of the U.S. tax code in decades.

In an early morning tweet Tuesday, Trump savors what would be his biggest legislative accomplishment as president, and says "DOW RISES 5000 POINTS ON THE YEAR FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER — MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"

He also says, "Stocks and the economy have a long way to go after the Tax Cut Bill is totally understood and appreciated in scope and size."

The president adds, "Immediate expensing will have a big impact. Biggest Tax Cuts and Reform EVER passed. Enjoy. And create many beautiful JOBS!"

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3:55 a.m.

Their long-sought political goal within grasp, Republicans in Congress are set to catapult sweeping $1.5 trillion tax legislation through the House, rolling over a dozen GOP defectors from high-tax states.

The Republicans' final drive to deliver the tax package to an eager President Donald Trump begins Tuesday with a vote in the House. Quickly following, a vote later in the day or on Wednesday in the Senate is expected to seal the deal. Both tallies likely will cling along party lines.

The Senate result was in doubt in recent weeks. Only on Friday did Republican leaders cement the needed support for the legislation, securing endorsements from wavering GOP senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Bob Corker of Tennessee. More holdout GOP senators— moderate Susan Collins of Maine and Mike Lee of Utah — came into the fold on Monday.

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