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Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

With the release of the Senate's plan yesterday, tax cuts are off to a stronger start than health reform's fraught debut earlier this year.

The bottom line: You've got high top rates on wealthy people, a concession to the left — yet tons of loopholes and crony tax breaks. Even Republicans who have been skeptical all year about tax reform's prospects say they see glints of momentum.

The reasons:

Sheer political panic: This may be Republicans' only chance to hold onto the House. GOP leaders, especially Speaker Ryan, are under no illusions — particularly not after the results in Virginia.Donor pressure: As members and senators have admitted out loud, donors won't be returning phone calls if united GOP government can't deliver tax reform.The Roy Moore factor: Senators were already nervous about this unpredictable, anti-establishment figure entering the Senate in the new year. His election is on Dec. 12. Now, with yesterday's molestation accusations, Republicans can foresee a scenario in which he loses to a Democrat in Alabama!The upshot: The GOP must pass tax reform before "the Roy Moore line," says a source close to leadership.Republicans understand and care far more about cutting taxes than they ever did — despite seven years of sloganeering — about overhauling Obama's Affordable Care Act.Be smart: Despite the "so far, so good" start, expensive concessions will still have to be added to bring around resistant business interests. Expect more stuffing in this bird.

Go deeper

House passes sweeping election and anti-corruption bill

Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images

The House voted 220-210Wednesday to pass Democrats' expansive election and anti-corruption bill.

Why it matters: Expanding voting access has been a top priority for Democrats for years, but the House passage of the For the People Act (H.R. 1) comes as states across the country consider legislation to rollback voting access in the aftermath of former President Trump's loss.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

House passes George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

Photo: Stephen Maturen via Getty Images

The House voted 220 to 212 on Wednesday evening to pass a policing bill named for George Floyd, the Black man whose death in Minneapolis last year led to nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Why it matters: The legislation overhauls qualified immunity for police officers, bans chokeholds at the federal level, prohibits no-knock warrants in federal drug cases and outlaws racial profiling.

8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Republicans plan to exact pain before COVID relief vote

Sen. Ron Johnson. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republicans are demanding a full, 600-page bill reading — and painful, multi-hour "vote-a-rama" — as Democrats forge ahead with their plan to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Why it matters: The procedural war is aimed at forcing Democrats to defend several parts the GOP considers unnecessary and partisan. While the process won't substantially impact the final version of the mammoth bill, it'll provide plenty of ammunition for future campaign messaging.