Vote coming next week on tax bill that includes individual-mandate repeal

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(Bloomberg) -- Congressional Republicans revealed the final details of their agreed-upon tax-overhaul legislation Friday. It’s the culmination of a six-week legislative sprint designed to deliver a major policy victory for their party and President Donald Trump before year’s end, and includes a provision to repeal the mandate that individuals buy insurance or pay a fine from the Affordable Care Act.

Republican leaders finalized their plan for a sweeping set of tax cuts for businesses and individuals Friday evening as two key GOP senators backed the plan -- all but guaranteeing a major policy victory for President Donald Trump.

The bill would cut the corporate tax rate to 21 percent in 2018 -- and temporarily cut rates for individuals as well. Other temporary changes, which would last through 2025, would boost the standard deduction and child tax credits and modify state and local tax deductions and the mortgage interest deduction.

As a bonus for Republicans, the measure would repeal the individual mandate that requires individuals to purchase insurance -- a measure imposed by the Obamacare law. Repealing that Democratic legislation has been among the party’s long-sought goals.

Congressional budget experts have estimated that repealing the mandate would result in 13 million fewer people having health insurance in 10 years.

Trump’s White House welcomed news of the final tax plan.

“By lowering tax rates, simplifying the rigged and burdensome tax code, and repealing the failed tax on lower- and middle-income households known as the Obamacare individual mandate, this legislation will grow our economy, raise wages, and promote economic competitiveness,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s press secretary.

“This April 15 filing season -- that is the last time you will file under this monstrous, broken tax code,” said House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, who will shepherd the final legislation through the House. The House plans to hold that vote Tuesday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California said in a statement.

“The House and Senate have agreed to a unified tax plan, and we will deliver it to the president’s desk just in time for Christmas,” McCarthy said. The Senate also plans to vote by mid-week.

Senate leaders gained two important votes Friday: GOP senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Bob Corker of Tennessee confirmed they’d vote “yes.” Rubio had sought an enhanced child tax credit -- a change that was made in the final version. Corker, who cited concerns about the bill’s effect on the federal deficit, said he’d had a change of heart.

A preliminary score from Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation showed that the new version of the bill would increase federal deficits by $1.46 trillion over 10 years -- before accounting for any economic growth that might result. Earlier versions of the legislation were estimated to boost deficits by roughly $1 trillion even after such effects.

The agreed-upon plan emerged after a six-week procedural sprint that began when an initial House bill was introduced Nov. 2. As that process unfolded rapidly, Democrats complained that they were shut out of it. They decried it as a tax cut that will mostly benefit high earners and predicted the rapid process would lead to drafting errors or unintended consequences.

Brady said Friday evening that he expects the bill will require technical fixes, but said that’s not unusual.

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