- Jonathan Swan
- Nov 26
Trump tormenting trio endangers the tax plan
Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP
With the Senate aiming for a tax vote late this week, White House and Senate aides express constant behind-the-scenes concern about three senators who are (a) worried about the deficit, (b) wholly unbeholden to leadership and (c) relish the opportunity to snub President Trump.
- Sens. John McCain, Bob Corker and Jeff Flake all despise Trump, and aren't likely to face voters again.
Senate leaders recently added a new name to the problem list: Sen. Steve Daines of Montana. He hasn't gone public with his concerns, but is withholding his support for the bill because he believes it favors corporations over other types of businesses.
- Other holdouts who are being lobbied: Susan Collins (Maine) and Ron Johnson (Wis.). Collins has constituents who love it when she bucks the party line.
- WashPo just posted a good piece on changes being considered to win over holdouts.
Why it matters: Lose any three of those six — and several could move together — and tax cuts are dead.
The bottom line: GOP leaders hoped to lock all of these folks down before Thanksgiving. But that didn't work: Leadership doesn't yet have 50 votes.
- But, but, but: Even my most pessimistic sources tell me they think the political urgency to get something done will override the concerns of the holdouts.
- The consensus view is that Collins wants to get to yes, and Daines could help Johnson get on board, since they have similar concerns.
Worth noting: No Republican seems to care about the tax package's miserable polling. Why not? A senior administration official summed it up in a text message (using Axios style):
"Can't go into election next year with 'accomplishments' only being:
- Kept Obamacare
- Fixed DACA
- Raised debt ceiling
- Increased spending via a partially paid-for sequestration budget cap deal."