Congress

Rubio to vote against GOP tax bill if child credit isn't expanded for low-income families

In this April 7, 2017, file photo, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington.
In this April 7, 2017, file photo, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. AP

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told Senate Republican Leadership on Thursday that he intends to vote against the massive tax bill barreling through Congress if the child tax credit isn’t expanded, a potential major blow in President Donald Trump’s desire to pass a tax overhaul by Christmas.

If the bill isn’t changed and Rubio votes against the plan, there would be no room for additional Republican dissension as the GOP only holds 52 of 100 Senate seats. Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker already announced that he would vote against the plan due to concerns on the federal deficit, leaving Republicans with only 51 votes.

Vice President Mike Pence would break a tie if the GOP has 50 votes.

Rubio isn’t happy that his plan to expand the child tax credit, which reduces some families' tax bill for every child they have under the age of 17, was shot down two weeks ago after Republican senators chafed at raising corporate taxes to pay for it.

But when Republican House and Senate tax negotiators met this week

Rubio and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, proposed a change to make the child tax credit fully refundable as a way to help low-income families, but that plan was opposed by Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and GOP leadership and the measure failed.

Lee is undecided on the bill in its current form, a spokesperson said.

Despite the failure of their proposed changes, Rubio and Lee voted for the initial tax bill that passed the Senate two weeks ago with 51 votes.

“My concern is, you found the money to lower the top rate and you found the money to add in (but) you can't find a little bit to somewhat increase the refundable portion of it? Remember, the refundable part of it grows with inflation, so it will continue to grow over the years. But the lower the starting point, the longer it will take to reach the full, $2,000."

Rubio has made it clear he wants an expanded child tax credit for months, and Trump hinted at an expansion on Wednesday saying, “You'll hear the numbers very soon but they're even larger than anticipated.”

The child tax credit reduces some families' tax bill for every child they have under the age of 17.

Rubio has repeatedly said he would vote against a tax plan that does not sufficiently benefit the middle class, though he has previously stopped short of threatening to vote against the final plan due to the child tax credit until now.

Alex Daugherty: 202-383-6049, @alextdaugherty

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