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Republicans rushed Friday to nail down their final tax bill — and got a boost when two wavering senators committed to supporting the plan next week.
On Friday, House and Senate Republicans plan to release their joint tax legislation, which a House and Senate conference committee finalized earlier in the day. They aim to pass the bill in both chambers by the middle of next week, getting President Donald Trump's signature before Christmas to hit their year-end target.
Backing from Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., on Friday all but assured the GOP will have the support to pass the legislation next week.
New issues for the plan emerged on Thursday. Rubio said, "I won't support the bill" unless GOP leaders expand the child tax credit. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who has not yet committed to supporting the bill, also sought more tax relief for working families.
After the GOP moved to boost access to the credit, Rubio's office confirmed Friday afternoon that he would vote for the bill. Then, GOP Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee — the only Republican to vote against the Senate version of the bill — committed to supporting the final plan.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has not yet backed the proposal. GOP Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Thad Cochran of Mississippi have also missed votes this week due to health reasons, though Senate leaders have said they will be available to help push the tax bill through next week.
Those factors created yet another last-minute scramble for Republicans to secure enough party votes to achieve their key legislative goal. They can lose votes from two of 52 GOP senators and still pass their tax overhaul with a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence, who delayed a planned Middle East trip to oversee next week's vote.
A desire to have a legislative accomplishment to promote ahead of next year's midterm elections has partly prompted the GOP rush to pass a tax plan. Republicans are forging ahead with the legislation — despite dismal public opinion polling and congressional projections estimating that the modest economic growth sparked by it will fall well short of paying for tax cuts.
The GOP expects to release a bill at 5:30 p.m. ET, on Friday, said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, the chairman of the House and Senate conference committee that drafted the final bill. He signed a so-called conference report finalizing the bill on Friday.
Republicans are optimistic they have the votes to pass their plan next week.
"I'm confident at the end of the day the Senate will approve this conference committee report," Brady told reporters Friday.
On Friday, Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., told reporters that the GOP would increase the refundable part of the proposed $2,000 credit to $1,400 from $1,100. While the tweak earned Rubio's support, Lee still has not committed to supporting the plan.
Trump on Friday projected that the proposal would have no problems passing.
"I have seen [the bill]. I think it's going to do very, very well," he told reporters.
However, the timing of a final vote is "in flux," Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, tweeted on Thursday. The Senate had planned to vote on the bill before the House, but the health problems faced by McCain and Cochran have added uncertainty.
"It's all about timing and managing absences in the Senate. ... We're simply being flexible to honor their concerns about managing their schedule and some possible absences," House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Thursday.
As for the plan itself, Republicans have compromised on many of the differences between the bills passed by the House and Senate. The GOP appears to need to finalize some provisions, such as the child tax credit.
Here's what the GOP is expected to include in the final plan, according to CNBC and other news outlets.
The changes bring fresh questions about how Senate Republicans will pay for tax breaks included in the bill. Under budget rules set by the Senate earlier this year, their bill cannot increase budget deficits by more than $1.5 trillion over a decade.
While previous versions of the bill narrowly stayed under that threshold, it is unclear now if the final bill will. The congressional scorekeeper Joint Committee on Taxation is expected to release a deficit estimate before final votes.
— CNBC's Ylan Mui contributed to this report