- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Senate Democrats demanded Wednesday that Republicans shelve their plans to vote on a tax-cut bill next week, saying the chamber must wait until after the new year when Sen.-elect Doug Jones will be seated.

Mr. Jones‘ victory in a special election in Alabama Tuesday will cut the GOP’s majority in the chamber to 51-49, giving them almost no cushion as they try to work out a final compromise bill between the House and Senate.

One Republican, Sen. Bob Corker, has already signaled he’s opposed to the bill, and in a 51-49 Senate that would mean the GOP would need to have every other senator vote in favor, and Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie, to pass their bill.

“The people of Alabama have spoken. Republicans and the administration must drop their partisan attempts to rush a corporate handout through Congress until Senator-elect Jones is sworn in,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Finance Committee.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this week that the winner of the Alabama election wouldn’t be seated this session. Alabama won’t finish its official vote canvass until Dec. 22, and then has until early January before it must certify the results.

Democrats said Mr. McConnell is on record in 2010 saying elections should alter voting schedules. After Republican Scott Brown won a stunning victory in a special election for the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts, Mr. McConnell said it should derail Democrats’ health care plans.

“McConnell ought to do what he said in 2010,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said.

Democrats did indeed hold off on votes until after Mr. Brown was sworn in — but went ahead with Obamacare anyway, using the budget to shoehorn the law through.

And there are other precedents for rushing big issues after party changes. In 2011, Sen. Jim Jeffords agreed to delay his switch from Republican to Democrat-supporting independent in order to help then-President George W. Bush get his tax-cut bill done.

Still, Mr. McConnell took the opposite approach last year on the open Supreme Court seat, delaying the confirmation process until after the 2016 presidential election.

He said at the time that the voters should have a chance to make themselves heard on the issue through the presidential election.

On Wednesday, Democrats said that same principle should apply now.

“Mitch McConnell should now allow Doug Jones to come to Washington, he’s now been duly elected by the people of Alabama. He should have a vote for them on the pressing issues of the day, which includes the tax bill,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

But Republicans dismissed the Democratic advice.

“I would assume that we’re going to pass the tax bill next week,” Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican and a member of the Senate Finance Committee, said on Fox Business Network.

He said the election results likely won’t be certified by the time of the vote, so Alabama will still be represented by outgoing Sen. Luther Strange, who lost to Republican nominee Roy Moore in a GOP primary earlier this year.

“We will get this bill to the president before Christmas regardless of who is a senator from Alabama,” Mr. Grassley said.


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