Top GOP senators say they have the votes to pass tax bill

Top Republicans said on Friday that they have the votes to pass their tax plan after two key holdouts came on board.

“I believe so,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told reporters, asked if they had the votes needed to pass the legislation.

Pressed if that means GOP leadership has the 50 votes needed to let Vice President Pence break a tie, he added “yes.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) added that he also believes they have the votes.

Their comments come after key negotiators huddled in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell‘s office on Friday morning.

Republicans had to kick work on the tax plan into Friday after deficit hawks threatened to kill the bill during an unexpected floor showdown on Thursday afternoon.

But leadership got a boost on Friday morning when two holdouts, GOP Sens. Steve Daines (Mont.) and Ron Johnson (Wis.), announced they would support the bill.

The announcement appeared to get Republicans the 50 votes needed.

That number, according to Cornyn, doesn’t include Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) or Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).

“We haven’t given up but right now we don’t have him,” Cornyn said when asked if leadership was counting on Corker to be part of the 50 “yes” votes.

Cornyn added that leadership is also “still talking to senator Flake too but we’re confident of the 50.”

Corker wanted a “trigger” for tax hikes in the bill if government revenue projections aren’t met, but he was told by the parliamentarian that the provision doesn’t comply with Senate rules.

Instead, leadership offered to add automatic tax increases in the bill, but that idea faced a swift backlash from other members of the caucus, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

Cruz told reporters on Thursday night that he was “absolutely” opposed to the idea.


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