- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 30, 2017

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine on Thursday said she has not yet committed to voting for the Senate GOP’s tax plan, but that she’s encouraged by the feedback she’s gotten on items to partially restore part of the state and local tax deduction and to deal with other health care issues.

Mrs. Collins also said she could live with a corporate tax rate higher than the 20 percent included in the $1.4 trillion-plus plan, which several senators have floated as a way to pay for other priorities.

“I am not committed to vote for this bill,” Mrs. Collins said at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “I need to wait to see what happens, but I am encouraged by the receptivity to the proposals that [I’ve] put forth.”

Mrs. Collins said it would be “very difficult” for her to support the bill without commitments on an item that would partially restore a deduction for property taxes, as well as additional provisions that would fund Obamacare cost-sharing payments and deal with high-risk insurance pools for people with pre-existing conditions.

She reiterated that she thinks it’s a mistake to include a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate in the bill, but that the other health care provisions would more than offset any associated spike in premiums.

Mrs. Collins said the health care items would probably be included in end-of-year spending legislation, rather than the tax bill. She said the spending legislation would presumably become law while the House and Senate are still hammering out differences between their tax plans, so that she would know whether her items are enacted before a final vote on the tax legislation.

One amendment she plans on offering to the tax bill would restore a $10,000 property tax deduction, which mirrors what’s in the House plan. That item would be paid for by setting the corporate rate at 21 percent and keeping the top individual rate at 39.6 percent.

“I don’t think we need to go to 20 percent on the corporate tax side,” Mrs. Collins said. “I do believe that we need to lower it, but I don’t think that we need to go to 20, and 21, 22 — fine with me.”

She said she supports an amendment from Sens. Mike Lee and Marco Rubio that would expand the availability of the child tax credit and pay for the change by raising the corporate rate from a planned 20 percent to 22 percent. The current rate is 35 percent.

While some senators have indicated they’re willing to bend on the 20 percent corporate rate, the White House has made it clear that the issue is a “red line” for President Trump and he will not accept anything higher.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will have to balance these competing demands from his members as he tries to limit GOP defections to no more than two ahead of a possible floor vote on the broader measure this week.

Republicans are using a fast-track budget provision that will allow them to pass the bill with a simple majority in the Senate, where they control 52 seats. The House passed its own similar tax overhaul plan earlier this month.

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