Chuck Schumer wants GOP to delay tax vote until Doug Jones is seated

Key Points
  • Chuck Schumer called Wednesday for Republicans to delay the final vote on their tax bill until Doug Jones is seated.
  • Jones, a Democrat, is the projected winner of Alabama's special Senate election.
  • Jones' presence during a tax vote could potentially derail the Republican policy goal.
Democratic Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Doug Jones acknowledges supporters at the election night party in Birmingham, Alabama, U.S., December 12, 2017.
Marvin Gentry | Reuters

Chuck Schumer is pushing for Republicans to pump the brakes on their tax plan.

The Senate minority leader from New York called Wednesday for the GOP to wait to hold a vote on its tax overhaul until projected Alabama Senate election winner Doug Jones takes office. Jones is set to become the first Democrat to win an Alabama Senate election in 25 years, claiming the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, according to NBC News.

"Today, we Senate Democrats are calling on Mitch McConnell to hit pause on his tax bill and not hold a final vote until Doug Jones is sworn into the Senate," Schumer told reporters. "Doug Jones will be the duly elected senator from the state of Alabama. The governor didn't appoint him, he won an election."

"It would be wrong for Senate Republicans to jam through this tax bill without giving the newly elected senator from Alabama the opportunity to cast his vote," he added.

Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks at a press confernce on urging the GOP To Slow Down Republican Tax Bill In Senate on December 13, 2017 in Washington, DC.
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Republican leaders want to vote on final tax legislation by next week, and they expect to have the votes to pass it in the House and Senate once a final deal between the chambers is reached. For months, the GOP has set the end of the year as its target for approving a tax proposal.

Waiting would potentially shatter GOP hopes of approving tax cuts, a key policy goal that lawmakers hope to promote ahead of next year's midterm elections.

The Alabama secretary of State's office says it will not certify Tuesday's election results until Dec. 27 at the earliest. That means Jones likely will not get sworn in until next month.

Currently, Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate. Under special budget rules being used to push through tax legislation, they can lose two party votes and still pass it with a simple majority, including a tiebreaking vote cast by Vice President Mike Pence.

If Jones took his Senate seat before the bill was passed, two Republican votes of opposition could sink the tax plan. The former federal prosecutor has signaled that he would not back the GOP plan, despite supporting corporate tax cuts.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., opposed the Senate's version of the plan due to the estimated $1 trillion or more it would add to federal budget deficits over a decade. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has not committed to backing the final bill, either.

Schumer on Wednesday highlighted that Republicans called for Senate Democrats to wait to carry out some Affordable Care Act votes until after special election winner Scott Brown of Massachusetts was seated. Schumer said then-Majority Leader Harry Reid pledged to do so.

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