Washington's congressional delegation split along party lines in Tuesday's House vote on the Republican tax bill, with Republicans supporting the tax-cutting measure and Democrats voting no.
Voting yes were all the state’s Republican representatives: Dave Reichert, R-Auburn; Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane; Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside; and Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Vancouver. Nationally, a dozen Republicans broke with the GOP to oppose the measure.
No House Democrat voted for the bill, including all six from Washington state: Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle; Rick Larsen, D-Everett; Adam Smith, D-Bellevue; Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor; Denny Heck, D-Olympia; and Suzan DelBene, D-Medina.
The measure passed the Senate Tuesday night on a party-line 51-48 vote, with Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell voting no.
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Republicans praised the tax bill, which was headed for the desk of President Donald Trump.
McMorris Rodgers, the House GOP’s highest-ranking woman, posted a Facebook video shortly after the vote, saying the bill would benefit taxpayers in Eastern Washington who have been struggling to get ahead.
“I am excited about what the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act means for them,” she said, pointing to the doubling of the standard deduction and the lowering of the tax rate for small businesses.
But Democrats slammed the measure as a giveaway to the wealthiest taxpayers that will balloon the federal debt by $1 trillion or more — leading to attempts to cut federal spending on programs, including Medicare.
In a statement, Jayapal, the Seattle Democrat, attacked the bill as “a massive tax break for the ultra-wealthy on the backs of middle class families.” She cited the bill’s dismantling of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate for health insurance and its reduction of the ability to deduct state and local taxes.
“With this heist, Republicans have branded themselves as the party of billionaires and giant corporations — they are robbing the American people and showing zero remorse,” she said.
DelBene, the Medina Democrat who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, criticized Republicans in a statement for quickly jamming through a bill that polls have said is unpopular with most Americans.
During the House floor debate before the vote, DelBene said her constituents don’t want tax breaks for the wealthy that will be paid for with cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. “They know Republicans always promise the benefits will trickle down to working people but they never do and they never will,” she said.
In a statement Tuesday night, Murray criticized Republicans for passing the bill without input from Democrats and nonpartisan experts. “The result of their closed-door negotiations is a terribly partisan bill that funnels even more money to those at the very topp, at the expense of hardworking families and future generations,” she said.
Some candidates in Washington’s closely watched 2018 8th Congressional District race to fill Reichert’s seat also weighed in.
But Dino Rossi, the leading Republican contender to succeed Reichert, was on vacation out of cell phone range and unavailable for an interview about the tax vote, according to his campaign manager, Andrew Bell.
Bell said in an email: “I can tell you that Dino hasn’t seen the final product produced by Congress, but he’s in favor of letting taxpayers keep more of what they earn.”
Democratic candidates vying to take on Rossi next fall attacked the tax bill as a sop for the wealthy.
Kim Schrier, a Sammamish pediatrician who has led Democratic 8th District candidates in fundraising, slammed Republicans for approving the tax cuts while failing so far to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health care for poor children.
“We’re standing at the edge of a new world in which thousands of children in the 8th District will be forced to skip doctor’s appointments or miss out on vital medication…,” she said in a statement.
Jason Rittereiser, a former prosecutor, posted on Facebook that the “hastily passed” bill would “fill the pockets of the wealthy 1%.” Mona Das, another Democratic contender, asked on Twitter: “If you’re upset about this vote, ask yourself: What am I going to do about it?”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched what it called a “digital holiday ad blitz” targeting Rossi and other Republican candidates over the tax vote. “Americans are making a list, checking it twice, and will hold Dino Rossi responsible for this tax scam next November,” DCCC spokesman Drew Godinich said in a news release.
An analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found the tax bill will reduce taxes on average for all income groups starting in 2018, though some taxpayers in wealthier areas would see taxes rise.
“In general, higher income households receive larger average tax cuts as a percentage of after-tax income, with the largest cuts as a share of income going to taxpayers in the 95th to 99th percentiles of the income distribution,” the analysis says. In 2027, when some of the individual tax cuts would expire, taxes would rise for some lower- and middle-income groups while continuing to decrease for wealthier taxpayers.
“Compared to current law, 5 percent of taxpayers would pay more tax in 2018, 9 percent in 2025, and 53 percent in 2027,” the analysis says.
Due to a Senate parliamentarian ruling, the House was expected to have to vote again on the tax bill Wednesday but the outcome was not expected to change.