Republican Senators fire warning shots about the new Senate GOP tax bill

Jeff Flake.

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Jeff Flake.
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Win McNamee/Getty Images

  • Senate Republicans released their version of the GOP tax reform bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
  • Sens. Jeff Flake, Marco Rubio, and Mike Lee expressed concerns about the amount of debt that could be added from the implementation of the legislation.

A trio of Republican senators expressed concern about the Senate GOP’s tax reform bill, signaling potential trouble ahead as Republicans race in their attempt to overhaul the federal tax code.

In the statement, Sen. Jeff Flake said he appreciated the attempt to reform the tax code but said he was worried about its potential effect on the national debt.

“I remain concerned over how the current tax reform proposals will grow the already staggering national debt by opting for short-term fixes while ignoring long-term problems for taxpayers and the economy,” Flake’s statement said. “We must achieve real tax reform crafted in a fiscally responsible manner.”

Flake has been highly critical of President Donald Trump and recently announced he would not run for reelection in 2018.

Flake’s concerns are indicative of a possible tripping point for the Senate bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Other GOP senators, such as Bob Corker, have also expressed concern with the potential impact to the deficit and debt.

The bill can only add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years, per Senate rules. White House leaders like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have long said the tax bill will pay for itself after adjusting for increased economic growth from its tax cuts.

The House’s version of the TCJA would still add roughly $1 trillion worth of debt, even accounting for economic growth, according to multiple independent analyses.

In addition, Sens. Marco Rubio and Mike Lee said that the increased child tax credit – which would increase to $1,650 under the Senate TCJA from the current $1,000 – was not enough help for families.

“We appreciate all of the work our colleagues have done to draft the Senate tax bill, and the progress for tax reform that it represents,” the senators said in the statement. “While we are glad to see an increase to the child tax credit, like the House bill, it is simply not enough for working families.”

The pair called for an increase in the credit to $2,000, doubling the current amount.

While the bill can pass on a party-line vote and without being blocked by a Democratic filibuster, Republicans only hold 52 seats in the Senate. Leaders can only afford two defections for the bill to pass.