Senate debates GOP tax plan ahead of final floor vote

Last Updated Nov 30, 2017 7:48 PM EST

The Senate convened at 10:30 a.m. ET and resumed consideration of the $1.5 trillion Senate GOP tax bill.

In the morning, about 16.5 hours out of 20 hours remain of debate time on the tax plan. A final vote is expected to take place in the upper chamber by the end of the week.

On Thursday evening, Senate Republicans hit a snag when they held a procedural vote on an amendment, offered by Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who caucuses with the Democrats, that would have sent the bill back to committee to try to get a deficit-neutral tax bill. For at least 15 minutes, the vote was stuck and Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, Bob Corker, R-Tennessee and Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, didn't vote. Ultimately, they voted against sending it back to committee. 

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, one of the three senators who killed his party's effort over the summer to repeal Obamacare, announced Thursday morning that he will support the tax plan. 

"After careful thought and consideration, I have decided to support the Senate tax reform bill. I believe this legislation, though far from perfect, would enhance American competitiveness, boost the economy, and provide long overdue tax relief for middle class families," he said in a statement. "Finally, I take seriously the concerns some of my Senate colleagues have raised about the impact of this bill on the deficit. However, it's clear this bill's net effect on our economy would be positive. This is not a perfect bill, but it is one that would deliver much-needed reform to our tax code, grow the economy, and help Americans keep more of their hard-earned money."

As debate continued on the floor Thursday evening, the Senate could not come to a final vote. The Senate will continue to debate the tax overhaul bill into Thursday night, but a final passage vote is expected to come on Friday, although members may offer an unlimited number of amendments before an final vote is taken.

The next roll call vote on amendments has been scheduled for Friday at 11:00 a.m. ET. 

On Wednesday evening, the Senate voted 52-48 along party lines to open debate on the GOP tax plan. A day earlier, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested that he was struggling to get all 52 Republicans in the upper chamber on board with their tax plan.

"It's a challenging exercise," the Kentucky Republican said about trying to appeal to members of his conference after they met behind closed doors with President Trump on Capitol Hill.  "Think of sitting there with a Rubik's cube, trying to get to 50 (votes)."

Mr. Trump met with Senate Republicans for about an hour Tuesday afternoon.

Republicans are proposing to reduce most income tax rates for individuals and modify the tax brackets for taxpayers, increase the standard deduction and child tax credit and repeal deductions for personal exemptions, among other things. The bill would also repeal the individual mandate under Obamacare

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has projected that the GOP tax plan would increase the federal deficit by more than $1.4 trillion over the next decade and that it would increase taxes on low-to-middle-income people and benefit the wealthy.