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Senate Republicans Secure Votes for Tax Overhaul

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., provided the Senate GOP with the necessary vote to advance the tax overhaul. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., provided the Senate GOP with the necessary vote to advance the tax overhaul. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 1:03 p.m. | Senate Republicans appear to have the votes necessary to approve their tax code overhaul.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., came out of a meeting with other Republicans and announced they had enough support. Shortly after, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona announced he would support the GOP tax bill, adding the cushion GOP leaders were seeking after Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Steve Daines of Montana earlier Friday said they had received enough assurances that their concerns would be addressed in a conference committee.

“I am pleased to announce I will vote in support the tax reform bill,” the Arizona Republican announced in a statement. 

Flake, in the statement, said the Senate tax bill would no longer include a “$85 billion expensing budget gimmick.” He also said he obtained a “firm commitment” from GOP leaders to work to enact a “growth-oriented legislative solution to enact fair and permanent protections” for young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, commonly known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients — or DACA.

However, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said Republican leadership did not agree to any policy compromise with Sen. Jeff Flake on how to address the pending expiration of the DACA program in order to win his vote on a tax overhaul.

“He’s got a very sincere interest in trying to find a solution,” the Texas Republican said. “He’s made it very clear that that’s a priority for him. Obviously, he’s not running for re-election.”

Cornyn said Flake was just “laying down that marker.”

The GOP only needs 50 votes to advance the legislation under the fast-track budget procedure known as reconcilitiom the party is using, assuming that Vice President Mike Pence casts the deciding vote.

Watch: Schumer Says GOP ‘Abandoning’ Its Principles With Tax Bill

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Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, another Republican holdout, left a GOP meeting on the tax bill optimistic about changes to it. Collins told reporters a provision she has pushed for to allow individuals to deduct up to $10,000 in property taxes was added to the bill.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who has expressed concerns over the legislation’s impact on the deficit, declined to state his position on the updated bill after leaving the meeting.

“I don’t really have anything to say, thank you,” Corker said.

Members leaving a GOP conference meeting on the legislation provided some broad contours of an updated bill expected to be released on Friday.

Sen. Ted Cruz said the updated Senate tax bill will not include either a “trigger” provision or any tax increases based on prior versions.

“That’s correct,” the Texas Republican said when asked.

Daines also confirmed the GOP was considering setting repatriation rates at 7 percent and 14 percent — for nonliquid and liquid funds, respectively — which would raise roughly $100 billion in additional revenue.

The House-passed tax bill includes the same numbers.

Daines also said the Senate was considering keeping the alternative minimum tax on high-income earners. A prior version would have repealed it.

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