Grassley, Ernst applaud tax bill's passage

Source: The Daily Nonpareil

WASHINGTON — The majority Republican Senate passed a nearly $1.5 trillion tax bill early Saturday, marking it as the first major legislative victory for President Donald Trump’s administration.

U.S. Senators of Iowa Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley issued statements following the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, calling the bill a step forward in pursuing a simpler tax code.

Ernst said the bill will also eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s — AKA Obamacare — individual mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance.

“This Senate bill also includes a bipartisan measure I helped lead to spur economic growth in poverty-stricken areas and bring hope and opportunity back to many distressed rural communities in Iowa,” Ernst said.

The bill will allow Iowa small businesses and entrepreneurs to keep more of their dollars to reinvest in their companies and is estimated to create over 10,000 jobs across Iowa, Ernst added.

“While the bill does not include everything I hoped, I am pleased that this legislation creates more opportunities for all, including lower- and middle-income families across the State of Iowa who will see thousands of dollars back in their pockets,” she said.

Grassley said the bill’s passage was a historic moment for Iowa and the U.S. considering it is the first significant tax reform in more than 30 years.

“This reform bill enacts across-the-board tax cuts, providing financial relief to middle-class and low-income earners who need it most. As just one example, an average family of four with two children would receive a $2,200 tax cut,” Grassley said.

Lowering taxes lets people decide how to spend more of their own money instead shifting that responsibility to Washington politicians, he added. Grassley also called out the health care act’s individual mandate as “unfair and regressive.”

Presiding over the Senate, Vice President Mike Pence announced the 51-49 vote to applause from Republicans. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., was the only lawmaker to cross party lines, joining the Democrats in opposition. The measure focuses its tax reductions on businesses and higher-earning individuals, gives more modest breaks to others, and offers the boldest rewrite of the nation’s tax system since 1986.

Republicans touted the package as one that would benefit people of all incomes and ignite the economy. Even an official projection of a $1 trillion, 10-year flood of deeper budget deficits couldn’t dissuade GOP senators from rallying behind the bill.

“Obviously, I’m kind of a dinosaur on the fiscal issues,” said Corker, who battled to keep the bill from worsening the government’s accumulated $20 trillion in IOUs.

The Republican-led House approved a similar bill last month in what has been a stunningly swift trip through Congress for complex legislation that impacts the breadth of American society. The two chambers will now try crafting a final compromise to send Trump.

After spending the year’s first nine months futilely trying to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law, GOP leaders were determined to move the measure rapidly before opposition Democrats and lobbying groups could blow it up. The party views passage as crucial to retaining its House and Senate majorities in next year’s elections.

Democrats derided the bill as a GOP gift to its wealthy and business backers at the expense of Americans with lower incomes. They contrasted the bill’s permanent reduction in corporate income tax rates from 35 percent to 20 percent to smaller individual tax breaks that would end in 2026.