- The Washington Times - Friday, December 15, 2017

Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee on Friday said he will vote yes on the Republican tax package, all but ensuring that Senate leaders will have votes they need to pass the final bill next week.

Mr. Corker, who voted no on the $1.4 trillion package that passed the Senate earlier this month, said the new bill is “far from perfect” but that he doesn’t want to miss a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity.

“In the end, after 11 years in the Senate, I know every bill we consider is imperfect and the question becomes is our country better off with or without this piece of legislation,” Mr. Corker, who is not seeking re-election next year, said in a statement.

“I think we are better off with it. I realize this is a bet on our country’s enterprising spirit, and that is a bet I am willing to make,” he said.

Mr. Corker originally voted no, citing concerns about the effect the package would have on federal deficits and the debt.

But he said the bill, accompanied with regulatory changes that are underway and potential future changes to trade and immigration policies, could have a positive impact on the country and in his home state.

Sen. Marco Rubio, another potential holdout, had already indicated Friday he planned to vote for the package after winning changes to a child tax credit in the package

Sen. Mike Lee, who has been working with Mr. Rubio on the child credit issue, praised the changes but said he still wanted to review the bill text.

“Sens. Rubio, Heller, and Scott have done a tremendous job fighting for working families this week and they have secured a big win,” Mr. Lee said in a statement. “I look forward to reading the full text of the bill and, hopefully, supporting it.”

Republicans control 52 seats of the 100-member chamber, and can afford two defections with the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence in their back pocket.

Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Jeff Flake of Arizona have also not indicated how they’ll vote on the final package, but both supported the Senate plan that passed on a 51-49 vote earlier this month.

Mr. Corker was the lone Republican senator to vote no, so flipping him to yes is a major boost to GOP leaders working to cobble together the votes.

Ms. Collins has also spoken positively in recent weeks about a change she successfully sought on a local property tax item, as well as assurances on separate health care-related items.

Apart from the holdouts and undecideds, Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Thad Cochran of Mississippi have also missed several votes this week as they deal with health issues.

Mr. McCain is battling an aggressive form of brain cancer, and recently underwent treatment at Walter Reed for associated side effects from his therapy.

Mr. Cochran had an outpatient procedure on Monday to address a “non-melanoma lesion on his nose,” but is doing well and is available for votes as needed, according to his office.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said Friday he thinks both senators will be able to vote for the package next week.

“I’m pretty confident we’ll see both Sen. Cochran [and] Sen. McCain back,” Mr. Cornyn told 660 AM radio.

He also said he’s “betting” Republicans won’t ultimately need Mr. Pence to break a potential tie vote.

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