An unconscionable Republican scheme to enrich already wealthy Americans and powerful corporations at the expense of everyone else passed the United States Senate a few moments ago — with all but one Republican voting in favor (despite admitting to not even knowing what was really in the bill they had voted for) and all Democrats and independents voting in opposition.
The final roll call vote on H.R. 1 — which isn’t really the final vote to pass the bill, unless the U.S. House concurs with the Senate version — was fifty-one to forty-nine.
Senators from the Pacific Northwest voted along party lines.
VOTING AYE: Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan (AK), Jim Risch and Mike Crapo (ID), Steve Daines (MT)
VOTING NAY: Democratic Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell (WA), Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (OR), Jon Tester (MT)
Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell was able to buy the votes of Lisa Murkowski by stuffing the bill with goodies they couldn’t say no to… like (in Murkowski’s case) opening the Arctic Refuge to drilling. McConnell also bought the votes of Susan Collins of Maine and John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona.
The votes for the bill by Susan Collins of Maine and John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona were particularly disheartening. Ms. Collins, who helped sink an effort to effectively repeal the [Patient Protection Act] in September, blithely voted for a tax bill that will leave a gaping hole in that law by repealing its requirement that most people have insurance or pay a penalty. She traded away her vote for an inadequate deduction for property taxes and empty promises from Mr. Trump and the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, that they would help shore up the A.C.A., which they have repeatedly tried to sabotage.
Mr. McCain, who previously voted against tax cuts in the Bush era because they were heavily tilted in favor of the rich rather than the middle class, seemed unconcerned that this bill was even worse in that regard. Then there is Mr. Flake, who has spoken powerfully against Mr. Trump and who is not seeking re-election. He folded on the basis of vague assurances about protecting the Dreamers, young undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children.
Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee was the only Republican to break with his party and oppose the bill… after he had helped advance it through committee earlier this week and thwart Democratic attempts to postpone the final vote.
Democrats reacted with fury and indignation before, during, and after the vote, which several characterized as a dark day for the Senate and the United States.
“Senate Republicans have once again made it clear that their highest priority is handing more tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations —and that they are willing to increase taxes on the middle class, raise premiums for patients, threaten Medicare and Social Security, open up [the Arctic Refuge] to drilling, and blow a massive hole in the deficit in order to get that done,” said Washington’s senior United States Senator Patty Murray in a statement.
“This bill is especially bad for middle class Washington state families who would no longer be able to deduct their state sales taxes from their federal income taxes. And it is disgraceful that even though patients and families have made it clear — again and again —that they don’t want Republicans to undermine their health care, this bill would cause thirteen million people to lose coverage and force families to pay more — all so that massive corporations and the very wealthy get more tax breaks they don’t need,” Murray added.
“Republicans still have a chance to stand up to President Trump, listen to their constituents, step back from this terrible anti-middle class bill, and work with Democrats on a true tax reform plan that would actually cut taxes for middle class families and grow the economy from the middle out, not the top down. I hope enough Republicans are willing to do this — otherwise middle class families will be paying the price for years to come.”