Major legislative victories in the entirely Republican-controlled Congress have been absent so far this year, but that could change very soon. Time is officially running out for opponents of the GOP tax bill, as the tax bill vote could take place as early as Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. The bill's detractors say that it would blow up the deficit, raise taxes on most Americans, and not lead to the Republicans' promised economic growth, but nonetheless they're planning on ramming it through Congress as soon as possible — and that could be as early as Tuesday night.
“We’re on the one-yard line and we intend to punch it in in a good strong way on Tuesday," said Texas Rep. Kevin Brady on Fox's Sunday Morning Futures. The best case scenario for congressional Republicans would be a House vote first during the day on Tuesday, followed by a Senate vote later on Tuesday or on Wednesday morning. Although the language of the bill has been set in stone, nothing about the schedule has — so everything could still be subject to change.
"It's a great bill and it's closed now. I think we'll get the support on Tuesday or Wednesday and have the vote," said Oregon Sen. Rob Portman, according to CNN. "We already had enough senators as it came through the Senate and the bill has even improved further in the House-Senate conference process. I'm confident we'll have the votes."
There was some scrambling last week as various senators came out with opposition to the bill, including Sens. Marco Rubio and Bob Corker. It then became clear that Sen. John McCain would miss the vote because of his ongoing cancer treatment. However, now that Rubio and Corker have gotten their various accommodations made, congressional Republicans believe that they have the votes to pass the bill, even with McCain sitting this one out in his home state of Arizona.
The bill contains a lot of elements that are unpopular even with Republican voters, like lowering the corporate tax rate and cutting the estate tax. However, the GOP still believes that politically, it's very important that they pass the bill before the Christmas recess. For one thing, the party has controlled both houses of Congress and the White House — and yet they have nothing to show for it in terms of major legislative victories, no matter what President Trump might say to the contrary.
Republicans are also facing pressure from their donors, with New York Rep. Chris Collins saying in November that “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.’” With the big midterms coming up in 2018, that could be of particular concern to those Republicans in races expecting to be tightly contested. After Republicans were forced to shelve their repeated attempts to repeal Obamacare, giving up on their long-awaited promise of tax reform would certainly not prove popular with the people who fund their campaigns.
The drive to at least complete one major accomplishment before the end of 2017 is huge motivation, according to people on Capitol Hill. "You can't overstate that," said a senior Republican aide, according to CNN. "We promised we'd do this. We're now doing it." That also accounts for the rushed nature of the whole process; six weeks from start to the president's desk — especially when dealing with a major piece of legislation like a tax overhaul — is in no way normal, as Democrats have been sure to point out time and time again.
As early as Tuesday night, however, Trump could receive a big bill to sign. At this point, it would take a huge surprise to reverse its course.