President Trump is expected to sign the Republican tax bill (H.R. 1) on December 22, following congressional passage of a continuing resolution that includes a waiver of statutory “pay as you go” rules.
The White House had previously suggested that Trump would wait until early 2018 to sign the tax bill, formerly called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, because signing it before passage of a pay-go waiver would trigger mandatory spending cuts. But the pay-go waiver was included in the short-term government funding bill passed by both the House and Senate December 21.
It’s likely that Trump will sign the tax bill on December 22, a senior administration official told reporters in a December 21 briefing, although he did not directly address the pay-go issue.
The official also said that Trump made a commitment to Sen. Susan M. Collins, R-Maine, that he would sign a bipartisan healthcare compromise worked out by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., which would continue cost-sharing reduction payments for two years. The measure was promised in exchange for Collins’s vote on the tax reform bill.
The congressionally approved continuing resolution would extend funding for government agencies, including the IRS and Treasury, through January 19, 2018, at the same levels provided for under the continuing resolution passed in September. Without the continuing resolution, government funding would expire at the end of the day December 22.
The resolution also includes funding for missile defense and an extension in funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program through March 31, 2018. The House voted along party lines to adopt the measure, while several Senate Democrats supported it in the upper chamber, where it passed on a 66-32 vote.
The Senate also voted 91-8 to waive a budget point of order against the continuing resolution that was raised by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in an attempt to keep the pay-go rules in place.
Democrats put the pay-go budget caps in place when they were in the majority in 2010, and yet both parties appear to want to waive them now despite the country’s serious debt problem, Paul said on the Senate floor. “So both sides give lip service to it, and yet both sides want more spending,” he said.
The House also voted to advance a supplemental measure that would provide $81 billion in disaster relief. The legislation includes provisions that would provide disaster-related tax relief to those affected by the California wildfires and other communities affected by hurricanes, including allowing for penalty-free withdrawals from tax-preferred retirement accounts to fund post-disaster rebuilding, and allowing individuals in disaster areas who are affected by the disaster to use the previous year's income to meet minimum eligibility requirements for the earned income tax credit.
The Senate, however, did not take up the disaster relief bill.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said the disaster supplemental would provide inadequate tax relief and would not win Democratic support. In a Senate floor speech, Schumer said the bill fails to extend the EITC for Puerto Rico or expand the child tax credit for the territory to make it consistent with what other states receive. He also said the supplemental should address an incentive created by the tax reform bill to move jobs out of Puerto Rico.
“The disaster supplemental may have to slip to next year. I think we can work it out in a bipartisan way,” Schumer said.
Neither chamber is expected to hold any more votes in 2017.
Stephen K. Cooper, David van den Berg, and Zoe Sagalow contributed to this article.
Follow Asha Glover (@AshaSGlover) on Twitter for real-time updates.