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White House, GOP celebrate passing sweeping tax bill

Republican lawmakers joined President Donald Trump on Wednesday afternoon to celebrate their largest legislative achi...

Posted: Dec 21, 2017 6:08 AM
Updated: Dec 21, 2017 6:08 AM

Republican lawmakers joined President Donald Trump on Wednesday afternoon to celebrate their largest legislative achievement of 2017, in a public ceremony spotlighting the most sweeping overhaul of the US tax system in more than 30 years.

"It's always a lot of fun when you win," Trump said at the ceremony on the White House lawn, after thanking congressional leaders including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

NEW: Republicans are celebrating with Trump outside the White House

Senate passed tax bill early Wednesday; the House approved the bill later

Hailing passage of the GOP's tax plan and surrounded by dozens of prominent Republicans in Congress, Trump said the package would fulfill his core campaign promise.

"It's really - it's simple. When you think you haven't heard this expression -- we are making America great again," he said, also ticking through a long list of congressional Republicans who helped guide the bill through Congress, adhering to an ambitious timeline that many considered laughable when it was unveiled just a few months ago.

Among those Republicans not at the White House on Wednesday: Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who voted for the Senate tax bill on Wednesday morning, but also acknowledged publicly that health care subsidies she wanted as part of a government spending deal will not be included before Congress leaves for its holiday break.

The bill passed the House a second time earlier Wednesday 224-201, with no Democrats backing it and a dozen House GOP members voting no. The measure now heads to the Trump's desk for his signature.

The President will not actually sign the bill Wednesday, however. The bill will not be "enrolled" yet -- the formal term for when a final copy of a bill passed by both houses of Congress is sent to the White House.

A fractured GOP unified to pass a landmark tax plan: Here's how it came together

In a vote in the early Wednesday morning hours, the Senate approved the final version of the first overhaul of the US tax code in more than 30 years. The bill passed along party lines, 51-48, with the final result announced by Vice President Mike Pence, who presided over the vote. The House passed the bill earlier Tuesday, but technical changes were made to it in the Senate.

Uphill climb for Republicans

While Republicans cheer the bill's passage, however, 55% of Americans oppose the plan, according to a new CNN poll. Just 33% say they favor the GOP's proposals to reform the nation's tax code.

McConnell told CNN that Republicans will continue to try to sell the bill to the public.

"Absolutely. We're looking forward to it," McConnell said. "My view of this is, if we can't sell this to the American people, we ought to go into another line of work."

Trump said the "results will speak for themselves."

"The Tax Cuts are so large and so meaningful, and yet the Fake News is working overtime to follow the lead of their friends, the defeated Dems, and only demean. This is truly a case where the results will speak for themselves, starting very soon. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!" the President tweeted.

Ryan appeared on several morning shows Wednesday to defend the legislation he's worked toward since 1993.

"When (the bill) gets in place, when people see their paychecks getting bigger in February because withholding tables have adjusted to reflect their tax cuts, when businesses are keeping more of what they earn, when they can write off their spending and hire more people, that's going to change its popularity, I am convinced," he told CBS in an interview. "So I think there's just tons of confusion out there as to what this does or doesn't do. A lot of people think it's going to raise their taxes. So the proof is in the pudding, and I think the results will speak for themselves."

Highlights of the bill

The plan -- which critics say is heavily weighted to ease the tax burden on businesses rather than the middle class -- drops the corporate tax rate down from 35% to 21%, repeals the corporate alternative minimum tax, nearly doubles the standard deduction for individuals and restructures the way pass-through businesses are taxed.

The bill keeps seven personal income tax brackets and lowers that tax rates for most brackets, including dropping the top rate to 37% from 39.6%.

For more on what exactly is in the bill's policy, check out CNN Money's full rundown.

The Joint Committee on Taxation found that all income groups will, on average, see a tax cut in 2019, though the projections worsen over time. In 2019, all taxpayers would see an 8% tax cut. The JCT, however, found that by 2027 taxpayers earning up to $75,000 would receive a tax increase -- this would stem from the sunsetting individual rate cuts in the final GOP bill, along with the repeal of Obamacare's individual mandate.

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