House Easily Passes Bipartisan Tax Bill. Will Senate GOP Derail It?

House Easily Passes Bipartisan Tax Bill. Will Senate GOP Derail It?

The House on Tuesday night easily passed a $78 billion bipartisan bill to increase the Child Tax Credit and restore some business tax breaks through 2025. The Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024 would also expand the low-income housing tax credit and provide some disaster relief. It sailed through in a 357-to-70 vote that far exceeded the two-thirds majority required for passage, though 47 Republicans and 23 Democrats voted against the legislation.

“Most prognosticators would have told you as recently as a month ago that this bill was destined to die in negotiations or collect dust on a shelf if it ever got introduced,” said Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, who heads the Senate Finance Committee and negotiated the legislation with Republican House Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith. “Given the sorry state of our political climate, it’s a real victory to have such strong momentum behind this bill that will help 16 million American kids from low-income families get ahead.”

That momentum could dissipate quickly in the Senate, where some Republicans have already expressed opposition to expanding the Child Tax Credit and concern about passing any bill that might benefit President Joe Biden in an election year.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota reportedly said that the bill will face a filibuster unless Republicans get a chance to amend it. “We need a process that allows for some amendments to try and tweak and fix some of the issues,” Thune said, according to Politico.

Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina told Semafor Wednesday that he has been warning colleagues against passing the bill and has been arguing that they would be better off waiting to decide tax policy under a potential second term for former president Donald Trump. Large portions of the 2017 Trump tax cuts are set to expire at the end of next year, and lawmakers will be negotiating — read: battling over — possible extensions of those cuts. “I think everything should be on the table there, including the future of the child tax credit provisions [that] are being proposed now,” Tillis told Semafor.

The Senate also has a lot already on its plate, including ongoing negotiations to try to salvage a supplemental spending bill that would pair border security changes with aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. Lawmakers also face government funding deadlines on March 1 and March 8 and another March 8 deadline to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration. And then there’s the possibility — or likelihood — that the Senate will have to hold an impeachment trial for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

In other words, the Senate calendar is looking pretty full and Republican senators will be seeking changes to the tax bill, all of which could bog it down. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to vet the legislation, address concerns, and make the necessary changes to build support,” Republican Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho said in a statement.

House Rules Committee advances SALT deal: New York Republicans had been upset that the tax bill does not raise the $10,000 limit on the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT). To overcome their objections, House Speaker Mike Johnson agreed to bring up a separate bill addressing the SALT cap. That measure, which seeks to eliminate a “marriage penalty” in the cap by raising it to $20,000 for joint filers making less than $500,000, cleared the Rules Committee in an 8-5 vote on Thursday, setting it up for potential consideration on the House floor next week. But it's unclear how many Democrats will support it and some Republicans are adamantly opposed. “People in low-tax states should not have to subsidize people in high-tax states just because local governments want to take more of their money,” GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida said.

The bottom line: GOP opponents of the bipartisan tax bill will likely face pressure from business groups and others who support the compromise legislation. “Senate Republicans will do the right thing, pick up this bill and deliver for the American people,” Smith, the House Ways and Means chairman, told Semafor. The SALT bill, meanwhile, faces long odds.