In a move that will go down in history as one of the most disgraceful acts in modern legislative history, Republican senators passed a monumental tax overhaul Saturday morning with a bill whose final version no one had read.
News reports Saturday morning described the move as a badly needed “victory” for the Republican Party, which until now had zero major legislative accomplishments under the Trump administration. But despite Republicans’ claims that the tax overhaul would benefit the majority of Americans, it was no victory for the country, as critics say it is a massive gift to corporations and the extremely wealthy.
In order to get it passed before special counsel Robert Mueller brings down anyone else in the Trump administration in the ongoing Russia probe, the lobbyists who scrambled to write the bill behind closed doors deep into Friday night added mountains of pork for lawmakers to bring home to their constituents.
Following the 51–49 vote, which came in just before 2 a.m., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, from Kentucky, said it was a “great day for the country.” He also said that, “Everyone had plenty of opportunity to see the measure” before it passed, a laughable claim disproven by last–minute pleas from Democratic lawmakers, who noted in dozens of tweets throughout the night that revisions were handwritten into the margins, making portions of the nearly 500–page bill illegible.
No Democrats voted yes, and only one Republican senator, Bob Corker from Tennessee, voted no. Republicans cheered after the bill passed.
Meanwhile, back in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky, which is staunchly Republican, over 1,000 people turned up at a protest in Louisville to express their outrage.
The bill remains deeply unpopular across the country, even among Republican voters. Yet GOP senators blatantly ignored their constituents—many of whom wanted at least a debate on the final markup before voting—unlike with the previous failed attempt by the party to repeal Obamacare.
Yet, a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate reportedly was contained in this version of the tax bill, along with other unrelated measures like allowing drilling of oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, among others.
A lede in The Washington Post describes the reality now facing Americans: “Senate Republicans passed a $1.5 trillion tax bill early Saturday morning that bestows massive benefits on corporate America and the wealthy while delivering mixed blessings to everybody else.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has been rallying against the tax overhaul for weeks, said Friday night that “historians will look back on Dec. 1, 2017, and they will conclude that today is a day of one of the great robberies, or criminal activities if you like, in the modern history of this country. Because the federal treasury is being looted tonight.”
He added, “This legislation will go down in history as one of the worst, most unfair pieces of legislation ever passed.”
Republican senators voted down several attempts by Democrats to delay passage of the bill until lawmakers could actually read it, and to ensure that critical programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security would be protected down the road, when the economic impact of the legislation begins to be seen.
Just days before the vote, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 49 percent of people who were aware of the measure said they opposed it. Only 29 percent said they supported it, and 22 percent said they didn’t know.
On Saturday morning, Trump tweeted congratulations to “these great Republicans.”