Collins Likely to Support Senate Resolution Key to Tax Reform

Updated on
  • ‘I very much want to see tax reform,’ Maine Republican says
  • Resolution, if successful, would smooth way to tax overhaul

Senator Susan Collins says she’s leaning toward supporting a fiscal 2018 Senate budget resolution that’s key to the Republican effort to pass a major tax overhaul without the need for Democratic votes.

“I am likely a yes on that budget,” Collins said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “I very much want to see tax reform.”

Susan Collins

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The budget resolution, which may be taken up by the Senate this week, would set up a procedure that allows Republicans to pass a tax bill by a simple majority, thus dodging potential Democratic filibusters.

Collins was the only Republican senator to vote against a budget resolution in 2015 that called for repeal of the estate tax, which is a part of current GOP framework. The Maine lawmaker also helped end Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act this year with opposition to various measures proposed by party leadership.

Still, Collins, among the most centrist of Republican senators, still wants to see Democrats on board. “There’s bipartisan support for reforming the tax code,” she said of the tax reform plans. “I hope we can keep it a bipartisan effort.”

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he’s been speaking to many senators about the upcoming budget resolution. He said that he and Trump are “committed to getting it done this year, and we are confident that that’s going to occur.”

“The Senate understands the importance of this, and I would also just comment I hope we get a lot of Democrats on board with this as well,” Mnuchin said on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

Senator Lindsey Graham said continued Republican control of the House of Representatives and Trump’s potential re-election in 2020 would ride on the tax overhaul.

“Yeah, if we don’t, we’re dead,” the South Carolina Republican said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” about passing the tax plan. Graham, vanquished early in his 2016 bid for the Republican presidential nomination, has golfed with Trump at the president’s course in Virginia the past two weekends.

“If we don’t cut taxes and we don’t eventually repeal and replace Obamacare, then we’re going to lose across the board in the House in 2018,” Graham said. “And all of my colleagues running in primaries in 2018 will probably get beat.”

Mnuchin repeated on Fox that the administration’s aim is for a middle-class tax cut. Collins said she wants to “see us help our working families with tax relief” through elements that include doubling the standard deduction.

A CBS News tracker poll released on Sunday suggests Republicans will have an uphill battle selling the tax plan to average Americans.

The survey found 58 percent of Americans think the reforms would favor the rich, while only 18 percent think they would favor the middle class and 19 percent see everyone treated equally.

The poll also showed more support for cutting the federal deficit, even if taxes stay the same, than for cutting taxes and raising the deficit -- as most economists surveyed by Bloomberg in September have suggested the Republican plan would do.

The CBS poll of 2,371 adults was conducted by YouGov Oct. 11-13 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

— With assistance by Mark Niquette, and Ben Brody

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