Nov 28, 2017

The Senate tax bill's "seesaw" trap

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain arrives for votes last evening. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

With administration and leadership aides frantically negotiating with holdout senators, the Senate's tax vote scheduled for late this week could lapse into next week.

That would raise everyone's blood pressure: Everything is fragile.

  • A senior administration official told me: "We're still getting it done in a matter of a couple months, instead of a couple of years. It's OK if it takes a few extra days."
  • The bill is in the ugly sausage-making phase, with senators taking advantage of their leverage to make demands. At least six GOP senators are holding out (John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Susan Collins of Maine, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Steve Daines of Montana).
  • Lose three of those, and the bill is dead.
  • McCain says he's undecided. His concerns? "A lot of things."
  • Will be drama to the end: The well-wired Chris Krueger of Cowen has "~8 Republican Senators on fence/lean-no ... Any slippage, and momentum goes other direction with Alabama Senate election [Dec. 12], and shutdown negotiations next week."

The state o' play, from more than half a dozen senior Republicans interviewed by Swan:

  • "High concern" about Corker of Tennessee and Johnson of Wisconsin: They're simply not on board yet, and they both have a vote in the Budget Committee — a vital procedural step scheduled for 2:30 p.m. today.
  • If Johnson votes against this, there's no hiding! Everyone will pile up on him. And there's no telling what Trump will do.
  • A problem for McConnell & Co: Johnson and Corker sit on opposite ends of a Catch 22 seesaw: Johnson wants lots more money for "pass-through" businesses. But every extra dollar you give him is another dollar that will blow out the deficit and worry deficit hawks like Corker, Flake and McCain.
  • A senior GOP aide: "It's unclear what exactly that Senator Johnson wants. ... It's potentially hundreds of billions of dollars."

Be smart: House leaders are insisting on a conference committee to work out the vast differences between the two chambers' tax bills: They say they don't have the votes for the Senate bill, and won't swallow it whole.That's a whole new minefield.

How It's Playing ... N.Y. Times lead story: "TAX WRANGLING AIMS TO SWEETEN GAINS OF WEALTHY."

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

The number of deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 400,000 worldwide on Sunday morning, per Johns Hopkins.

By the numbers: Almost 6.9 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 globally and more than 3 million have recovered from the virus. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world with over 1.9 million.

George Floyd updates

Protesters gather north of Lafayette Square near the White House during a demonstration against racism and police brutality, in Washington, D.C. on Saturday evening. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have been rallying in cities across the U.S. and around the world to protest the killing of George Floyd. Huge crowds assembled in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Chicago for full-day events on Saturday.

Why it matters: Twelve days of nationwide protest in the U.S. has built pressure for states to make changes on what kind of force law enforcement can use on civilians and prompted officials to review police conduct. A memorial service was held for Floyd in Raeford, North Carolina, near where he was born. Gov. Roy Cooper ordered all flags to fly at half-staff to honor him until sunset.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,898,613 — Total deaths: 399,832 — Total recoveries — 3,087,714Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,920,061 — Total deaths: 109,802 — Total recoveries: 500,849 — Total tested: 19,778,873Map.
  3. Public health: Why the pandemic is hitting minorities harder — Coronavirus curve rises in FloridaHow racism threatens the response to the pandemic Some people are drinking and inhaling cleaning products in attempt to fight the virus.
  4. Tech: The pandemic is accelerating next-generation disease diagnostics — Robotics looks to copy software-as-a-service model.
  5. Business: Budgets busted by coronavirus make it harder for cities to address inequality Sports, film production in California to resume June 12 after 3-month hiatus.
  6. Education: Students and teachers flunked remote learning.