- The Washington Times - Friday, December 1, 2017

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn on Friday said the GOP has the 50 votes necessary to pass its $1.4 trillion-plus tax overhaul plan.

“We’re confident [in] the 50, and we’d like to build on that,” Mr. Cornyn, Texas Republican, told reporters.

Earlier, Senate Finance Committee Orrin G. Hatch said he thought they had the votes but that lawmakers were still toying with a fiscal “trigger” idea that would kick in if deficits jump too much.

Senators indicated Thursday that the “trigger” mechanism — pushed by deficit hawks like Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona — might not fly under Senate rules they’re using that allow them to pass the package with a simple majority.

Republicans control 52 of 100 seats in the Senate, and can afford two defections with the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence in their back pocket, assuming no Democrats support the measure.

Mr. Hatch said the trigger provision is a must-have for certain senators, while others don’t think it’s as important.

“We’ll just have to see how it finally shakes out,” he said. “We’re getting close, though.”

Mr. Hatch and other GOP leaders got a big boost Friday when Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Steve Daines of Montana said they plan to support the package after winning additional concessions for small businesses.

But senators are constrained by a $1.5 trillion maximum price tag on their package, and could have to find a way to offset the cost of those additional benefits.

Asked how they plan to pay for the small business changes, Mr. Hatch chuckled and told reporters: “You guys really ask tough questions.”

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