- Republican Sen. Ron Johnson said he would not vote for the Senate’s tax bill, called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
- Johnson said he didn’t like the process Senate Republicans were using to advance the bill – and the bill’s benefits for large corporations.
- This complicates the path forward for Senate GOP leaders, who already have little room for error.
Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin on Wednesday became the first Republican senator to declare opposition to the Senate GOP’s tax bill.
In a statement, Johnson said the bill, named the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, gave a bigger percentage of benefits to large corporations while shorting smaller, pass-through businesses.
“Unfortunately, neither the House nor Senate bill provide fair treatment, so I do not support either in their current versions,” Johnson said. “I do, however, look forward to working with my colleagues to address the disparity so I can support the final version.”
Johnson told The Wall Street Journal’s Siobhan Hughes that Republicans would need to change the bill significantly for him to support it. The bill was released on Thursday, and changes have come rapidly.
“If they can pass it without me, let them,” Johnson said. “I’m not going to vote for this tax package.”
The issue for Johnson is the benefits for multinational corporations relative to those for pass-through entities, such as limited-liability corporations and S-corporations.
Additionally, Johnson said the process Senate Republicans were using to advance the bill so quickly had excluded months of his input.
“I don’t like that process,” Johnson told The Journal. “I find it pretty offensive, personally.”
Republicans can afford only two defections to pass the bill along party lines. GOP Senate leaders are moving the bill through budget reconciliation, which would require a simple-majority vote to pass, but Republicans control only 52 seats.
Already, a handful of Republican senators have expressed misgivings about the legislation.
Moderates like Sen. Susan Collins have said they are concerned about how much of the bill’s benefits go to wealthier Americans, as well as proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s so-called individual mandate. Others, like Sens. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, wavered over the amount by which the bill is expected to raise the federal budget deficit.
Here’s Johnson’s full statement:
“We have an opportunity to enact paradigm-shifting tax reform that makes American businesses globally competitive, helps our economy reach its full potential, and creates greater opportunity and bigger paychecks for every American.
“In doing so, it is important to maintain the domestic competitive position and balance between large publicly traded C corporations and ‘pass-through entities’ (subchapter S corporations, partnerships, and sole proprietorships). These businesses truly are the engines of innovation and job creation throughout our economy, and they should not be left behind.
“Unfortunately, neither the House nor Senate bill provide fair treatment, so I do not support either in their current versions. I do, however, look forward to working with my colleagues to address the disparity so I can support the final version.”