By JIM TANKERSLEY
WASHINGTON – House and Senate Republicans have reached an agreement, in principle, on a consensus tax bill on Wednesday, keeping the party on track for final votes next week with the aim of delivering a bill to President Donald Trump’s desk by Christmas, according to people briefed on the deal.
Details on the deal were not immediately available. On Tuesday, Republicans said they were close to agreement on a package that included a cut in the corporate tax rate to 20 percent, from a high of 35 percent today, and reducing the top income tax rate for individuals to 37 percent from 39.6 percent.
It is not clear if Republican senators will roundly endorse the deal, which would allow provisions that Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Marco Rubio of Florida had raised concerns about earlier this week. Collins has said she’s not in favor of a lower individual rate and Rubio has pushed for a more generous child tax credit.
The Senate bill narrowly passed 51-49, with Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., voting against the legislation, and other lawmakers, such as Collins, only getting on board once certain changes were made, such as expanding the medical expense deduction.
The agreement was finalized Wednesday morning, hours before the first and only scheduled public meeting of the congressional conference committee formed to work out the differences between the House- and Senate-passed versions of the bill.
The push to pass the bill next week was sharply criticized by Democrats, who called on Republican leaders to slow what has been a sprint to pass the tax bill and wait for a newly-elected Democratic senator from Alabama, Doug Jones, to be seated before holding any more votes on the legislation. Jones won a special election on Tuesday night over Roy Moore, a Republican, flipping control of the seat and reducing the Republican Senate margin to 51-49.
Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the finance committee, tweeted Wednesday morning that Republican leaders should delay the tax process until Jones takes his seat.
Republican leaders gave no indication on Wednesday that they will delay the bill.