Senate Republicans are down to the wire on their tax bill — so much so that the legislation, which would massively overhaul the nation's tax code, has large portions that are handwritten.
Mere hours ahead of the Senate's tax vote, Republicans have yet to release an official copy of the tax bill. The only legislative text that has been internally circulated by Senate staff and tax lobbyists, and made public first by Bloomberg reporter Sahil Kapur, includes large swaths of policy changes in handwriting, filled between the lines and in the margins of a previous copy.
The handwritten policy changes include changes to the language around the expansion of the child tax credit and how to tax pass-through companies, like LLCs or partnerships, that are transitioning into corporations that are taxed at a different rate. The handwritten edits also cross out an entire segment of the bill giving a tax deduction for tuition payments toward some qualified religious instruction.
As this handwritten copy of the tax bill surfaced, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), the top Democrat on the tax-writing Finance Committee, took to the Senate floor to decry the Republicans' rushed, secret, and last-minute process.
Durbin asked to submit the legislative text with handwritten alteration to the Senate record as "artwork." Sen. John Tester (D-MT) also released a video highlighting the handwritten portions of the bill, sarcastically saying this was "your government at work."
Wyden seconded Durbin's call, saying the Republicans' last-minute partisan process on the tax bill was "outrageous," and added that the text should be in the Senate record so the "American people can get a sense of the kind of flimflam that's going on here."
In all, the Senate's tax plan — a $1.4 trillion tax cut — permanently cuts the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, repeals Obamacare's individual mandate, estimated to leave 13 million fewer insured over the next decade, and lowers tax rates for most Americans until 2026, overwhelmingly advantaging the country's wealthiest.
The bill, which was pieced together overnight the day before the vote, also alters the state and local tax deduction — completely repealing the income tax deduction and capping the property tax deduction at $10,000 — a last-minute addition to win over Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). It also gives a 23 percent deduction to pass-through businesses, which are companies organized as sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, or S corporations that don't pay the corporate income tax, a demand from Sens. Ron Johnson (WI) and Steve Daines (MT).
The final version of the bill has not had a public hearing, was largely crafted behind closed doors, and was released just ahead of the final vote.