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Republicans Hope To Pass Tax Bill By Christmas


President Trump might get the gift he's been wanting for a while right before Christmas, and it's over 500 pages long - a GOP bill to overhaul the U.S. tax code. Republicans in Congress released a final bill on Friday and now will work quickly this week to pass the $1.5 trillion package and send it to the president's desk. For more, NPR's congressional reporter Scott Detrow joins me now. Hey, Scott.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: The White House - rather, the House and the Senate worked out the differences between their tax bills. What are some of the highlights of this final legislation?

DETROW: There are big cuts for corporations in here, also for pass-through businesses, where owners pay taxes as an individual. There are individual tax cuts. Those by and large go more toward wealthy earners. And those tax cuts will expire in 2025. But Republicans made a calculation here that whoever's in control of Congress next decade will not be super thrilled to raise taxes on a lot of voters. So that's that.

I think it's worth noting that Republicans all along sold this as not just tax cuts but a simplification of the tax code. You heard President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan say, you can file your taxes on a postcard. By and large, they did not simplify the tax code here. There are still seven brackets. There's still a lot of deductions, a lot of loopholes, a lot of language. So...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Five hundred pages.

DETROW: Five hundred pages, yeah.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, it doesn't seem so simple. Republicans seem pretty certain that the tax bill is going to pass. How big a victory would it be?

DETROW: You know, it's a pretty big deal. All year, Republicans struggled to get anything done, even though they had full control of the federal government. Now they have this big accomplishment they can point to. And I think that was part of the reason here. You saw a lot of Republicans like Bob Corker of Tennessee saying, I have big concerns, but I'm going to vote yes. A lot of people in Congress just wanted to get a victory. But look at the polling. It's not a popular bill.


DETROW: And you can already hear the Democrats putting together their campaign message against this. I mean, they were going to argue Republicans haven't done anything in Congress. Now they can argue the only thing Republicans have done so far is big tax cuts for the wealthy. So you can hear the messages already.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Indeed, you can. Big deal for the Republicans, but it's not the only issue to come up this week. There's a government funding fight that we're looking at on the horizon and the ongoing Russia probe. And this weekend, we're seeing more pushback against the Mueller investigation.

DETROW: Yeah. According to reports, the lawyer representing the Trump transition has complained to Congress that Robert Mueller's team obtained thousands of transition emails improperly - that the General Services Administration, which had the emails, allegedly turned them over to the investigation without full due process. Now, a spokesperson for the Mueller investigation says any emails obtained would've been gathered through the appropriate criminal process.

This is interesting for two reasons - one, because you've seen continued efforts by Trump allies to push back against Mueller to try and muddy his investigation. Second, if Mueller does have thousands of additional transition emails, that's the window that he's been focusing on with that meeting between Michael Flynn and Russia's ambassador. So thousands of emails could aid that investigation.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right that's. NPR's congressional reporter Scott Detrow. Thank you so much.

DETROW: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Detrow
Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.