TAX CUTS AND JOBS ACT--Continued; Congressional Record Vol. 163, No. 199
(Senate - December 06, 2017)

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[Pages S7879-S7881]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                    TAX CUTS AND JOBS ACT--Continued

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming.
  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that Senators 
Rubio and Booker be recognized to make motions to instruct and that 
their motions be the only motions in order remaining; further, that 
there be up to 10 minutes of debate on the motions concurrently, and 
upon the use or yielding back of time on the motions, all remaining 
time on the House message be expired, and the Senate vote on

[[Page S7880]]

the Rubio and Booker motions to instruct in the order listed with no 
intervening action or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from Florida.


                           Motion to Instruct

  Mr. RUBIO. Mr. President, I have a motion at the desk.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the motion.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Florida [Mr. RUBIO] moves that the 
     managers on the part of the Senate at the conference on the 
     disagreeing votes of the two Houses on the Senate amendment 
     to the bill H.R. 1 be instructed to insist that any 
     conference report shall increase the refundable per-child tax 
     credit to no less than $2,000 and that the credit be expanded 
     to benefit more low-wage parents.

  Mr. RUBIO. Mr. President, this has to do with the child tax credit. 
We had a debate about it last week. I want to explain to everybody why 
it is so important that we continue to focus on it. Irrespective of 
whether we agree with the final outcome and whether the numbers were 
high enough in the Senate bill--and I continue to believe they were 
not--they are significantly better than the House position on this 
matter. I want to explain why.
  The loss of the personal exemption hits middle-income families to the 
tune of about $600. That has to be made up for. If you add to that the 
fact that over the last 15 years because of inflation, the value of the 
child tax credit has declined by over $300, that leads you to the 
conclusion that the break-even point for a child tax credit that deals 
with the middle-income family hit and the erosion of the value of the 
credit due to inflation brings you to $1,900. As a result, if you 
wanted to actually help families be better off than they are today, 
which is the goal of tax reform, the $2,000 amount in the Senate bill 
is basically the break-even point, plus $100. The House, unfortunately, 
in their bill only calls for $1,600.
  The first part of this motion to instruct is to ensure that the 
increase in the child tax credit, to our conferees instructing, be no 
less. Maybe it is more, but it can be no less than the $2,000 that is 
in the Senate bill.
  The second part, which was the topic of our debate, is the impact on 
low-income workers or workers in the lower part of the income scale--
firefighters, teachers, police officers, construction workers, welders, 
home health aides. These are working people, the backbone of our 
country, the people who have suffered the most over the last 25 or 30 
years, as the economy has made some people very profitable but left far 
too many American workers behind. Their anxieties, their daily 
concerns, the challenges they are facing really underpin a lot of the 
anxiety in our country, both electoral, political, and economic. Their 
primary tax liability is the payroll tax. If you make $40,000 a year, 
the biggest chunk of the taxes you pay is the payroll tax.
  By the way, when I hear people say that people making $40,000 or 
$30,000 a year don't pay taxes, they are wrong. They pay taxes. They 
take money out of your paycheck. They paid a tax. It is irrelevant 
whether it is a payroll tax or an income tax. Those are taxes. When I 
hear people say that, it is offensive. Working people across the income 
scale pay taxes. Unfortunately, that is not recognized in a lot of the 
debates that are going on here about working people.
  One of the things the Senate bill does do is it lowers the threshold 
upon which the tax credit begins to apply from $3,000 to $2,500. Again, 
not nearly enough, but it is certainly better than the House position. 
We can't regress on that point.
  The second part of this instruction is, it asks the conferees to 
ensure that the final bill expands benefits so more low-income, low-
wage parents and workers will be able to benefit from the child tax 
credit.
  I remain surprised that there is not more consensus to support the 
reality that we need to do more to help working people in this country, 
and the child tax credit is one of the best tools to do it. I hope that 
what comes back from the conference committee is as good as or better 
than what we put out in the Senate. If it is worse, there are going to 
be problems.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Jersey.


                           Motion to Instruct

  Mr. BOOKER. Mr. President, I have a motion at the desk.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the motion.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from New Jersey [Mr. BOOKER] moves that the 
     managers on the part of the Senate at the conference on the 
     disagreeing votes of the two Houses on H.R. 1 be instructed 
     to insist that the final conference report does not contain 
     any provisions that would increase the number of individuals 
     who do not have health insurance or increase health insurance 
     premiums.

  Mr. BOOKER. Mr. President, my motion to instruct the Senate conferees 
would simply insist that the final conference report does not increase 
the number of individuals who do not have health insurance and does not 
increase health insurance premiums.
  It has been stated on this floor by my colleagues on this side of the 
aisle that this bill is a blow to our deficit, that it is a blow to our 
budget, and that it is going to hurt families, particularly in States 
like mine, with the elimination of the State and local tax deductions. 
We also know that it could be a bill that could literally threaten the 
lives of Americans as well.
  The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said that it will 
increase premium costs by 10 percent and cause 13 million people to 
lose their coverage, increase premiums and hurt people.
  We know that this bill as it is currently written threatens Americans 
who rely on Medicaid, including children, people with disabilities, and 
seniors in nursing homes, because of the bill's potential to impact a 
State's ability to access funds for its Medicaid Program--again, the 
State and local tax deductions.
  It is also going to possibly trigger cuts to Medicare. Because the 
bill that passed the Senate would possibly add $1.5 trillion to the 
deficit, it could trigger automatic cuts to government programs, 
including an annual cut of $25 billion to Medicare. A cut that size 
will significantly limit Medicare beneficiaries' access to essential 
health services in everything from cancer screenings to chemotherapy.
  I urge my colleagues to support my motion. The Senate conferees must 
insist that the final conference report of this harmful bill at the 
very least does not contain any provision that would increase the 
number of Americans who do not have health insurance or that would 
increase health premiums for already cash-strapped American citizens.
  Thank you.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. TOOMEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for 1 
minute in opposition.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. TOOMEY. Mr. President, this harkens back to a moment earlier in 
this debate when the Senator from Oregon, the ranking member of the 
Finance Committee, described the repeal of the individual mandate as 
driving a stake through the heart of ObamaCare. Think of what a 
confession this is by our colleagues on the other side of what a 
disaster ObamaCare is--that it is dead, that it is done if people are 
not forced against their wishes to purchase a product that does not 
suit their families' needs and/or that they cannot afford. What kind of 
business model--what kind of person?--could possibly justify having to 
force people to buy its product? This is not only an egregious affront 
to any sense of personal freedom, but it is proof positive that this 
doesn't work.
  There is another aspect to this as well, and that is that the tax 
that we impose on people who cannot afford these ObamaCare plans but 
that they are forced to buy is a regressive tax that falls wildly 
disproportionately on lower and middle-income folks. In my State of 
Pennsylvania, 83 percent of the families who are hit with this tax live 
in households that earn less than $50,000.
  I urge my colleagues to reject this motion.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.
  Mr. BOOKER. Mr. President, I yield back my time.

[[Page S7881]]

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. All time is yielded back.


                       Vote on Motion To Instruct

  The question is on agreeing to the motion by the Senator from 
Florida.
  The motion was agreed to.


                       Vote on Motion to Instruct

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on agreeing to the motion by 
the Senator from New Jersey.
  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senator is necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Tennessee (Mr. Alexander).
  Further, if present and voting, the Senator from Tennessee (Mr. 
Alexander) would have voted ``nay.''
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from Minnesota (Mr. Franken) 
is necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 47, nays 51, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 309 Leg.]

                                YEAS--47

     Baldwin
     Bennet
     Blumenthal
     Booker
     Brown
     Cantwell
     Cardin
     Carper
     Casey
     Coons
     Cortez Masto
     Donnelly
     Duckworth
     Durbin
     Feinstein
     Gillibrand
     Harris
     Hassan
     Heinrich
     Heitkamp
     Hirono
     Kaine
     King
     Klobuchar
     Leahy
     Manchin
     Markey
     McCaskill
     Menendez
     Merkley
     Murphy
     Murray
     Nelson
     Peters
     Reed
     Sanders
     Schatz
     Schumer
     Shaheen
     Stabenow
     Tester
     Udall
     Van Hollen
     Warner
     Warren
     Whitehouse
     Wyden

                                NAYS--51

     Barrasso
     Blunt
     Boozman
     Burr
     Capito
     Cassidy
     Cochran
     Collins
     Corker
     Cornyn
     Cotton
     Crapo
     Cruz
     Daines
     Enzi
     Ernst
     Fischer
     Flake
     Gardner
     Graham
     Grassley
     Hatch
     Heller
     Hoeven
     Inhofe
     Isakson
     Johnson
     Kennedy
     Lankford
     Lee
     McCain
     McConnell
     Moran
     Murkowski
     Paul
     Perdue
     Portman
     Risch
     Roberts
     Rounds
     Rubio
     Sasse
     Scott
     Shelby
     Strange
     Sullivan
     Thune
     Tillis
     Toomey
     Wicker
     Young

                             NOT VOTING--2

     Alexander
     Franken
       
  The motion was rejected.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.

                          ____________________