Senate passes sweeping tax overhaul bill by 51-49 vote

The U.S. Senate passed a sweeping $1.5 trillion tax overhaul early Saturday morning that includes lowering corporate tax rates and eliminating the Affordable Care Act mandate, but since it was mostly drafted behind closed doors and lawmakers were adding amendments right up until the vote, it’s unclear exactly what’s in the massive and complex bill.

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Called the Tax Reconciliation Act, the bill passed by a 51-49 margin as Republicans and Democrats voted mostly along party lines. Only Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker went against his party, as the Republican voted against the bill. The final tally was announced at 1:50 a.m. ET.

The Congressional Budget Office said Thursday the GOP Senate tax plan would add more than $1 trillion dollars to the budget deficit in 10 years.

President Donald Trump lauded the bill’s passage in an early morning tweet, saying that America is “one step closer to delivering massive tax cuts for working families.”

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also responded, calling the legislation a "betrayal of the American middle class."

>> Montana Sen. Jon Tester’s tweet about bill goes viral

“The GOP tax scam is a product of haste, carelessness and cruelty," Pelosi wrote. "It was written on Republicans’ trickle-down delusions, not analysis or facts. It was written first and foremost for the wealthiest one percent, not middle class families trying to get ahead."

Passing the legislation was a huge victory for Senate Republicans and Trump, both looking for significant legislative achievements, CNN reported.

Republican leaders said the tax cuts would encourage U.S. companies to invest more and boost economic growth, Reuters reported.

“We have an opportunity now to make America more competitive, to keep jobs from being shipped offshore and to provide substantial relief to the middle class,” said Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate.

Congressional negotiators continued to make changes to the bill -- including handwriting alterations on to the document -- up until just hours before the final vote, CNN reported.

Congressional negotiators continued to make changes to the bill -- including handwriting alterations on to the document -- up until just hours before the final vote.

The changes drew some criticism from Democrats. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin complained on Twitter that “they are making hand-written changes to brand-new text as we speak.”

“Can anyone else read this?”

>> JAMIE DUPREE: Flurry of late changes preceded bill’s passage

The U.S. House passed the Tax Cut and Jobs Act on Nov. 16 on a party-line vote. The Senate bill now goes back to the House for reconciliation, and then to Trump for his signature.

The House will vote on a motion to go to conference on the tax bills on Monday evening. Fox News reported. The Senate is expected to vote on a similar measure soon after. Congress is scheduled to adjourn for its Christmas break on Dec. 15. Trump said he was looking forward to signing the bill before Christmas.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a key holdout, announced just after noon  Friday that he would back the plan, CNN reported. Republicans could pass the legislation with 50 members and a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence, but after Sen. Susan Collins of Maine announced her support Friday afternoon, Pence's would-be vote was unnecessary, as Collins' vote brought the tally to 51.

Before the vote was taken, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, said the Republicans’ approach “a process and a product that no one can be proud of and everyone should be ashamed of.”

The Democrat from New York added that changes made to the bill “under the cover of darkness” would “stuff even more money into the pockets of the wealthy and the biggest corporations while raising taxes on millions in the middle class,” 

The New York Times reported.

NOVEMBER 30: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks during a news conference in Dirksen Building on the importance of passing the tax reform bill for small businesses on November 30, 2017. Also appearing in the front row are, from left, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Linda McMahon, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call,Inc.)

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