(Reuters) President Donald Trump’s drive for a big US tax cut package headed toward a new drama on Tuesday in the Senate, where a pair of Republican lawmakers demanded changes in exchange for their help in moving the measure forward.
Trump was due to lobby Republicans at their weekly policy luncheon in the US Capitol, with the Senate poised for a possible vote on tax legislation as early as Thursday.
The president has called on Republicans to deliver a tax bill to his desk before Christmas. The House of Representatives has already approved its version of the package, which would cut taxes for businesses and individuals.
But a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Tuesday, which Republican leaders have hoped will send legislation to a full Senate vote, has hit a potential hurdle with Republicans Ron Johnson and Bob Corker saying they may vote against the measure.
Their opposition could be the first major obstacle for the Republican tax overhaul in the Senate, where earlier this year political infighting prevented the party from overturning the Obamacare healthcare law.
Johnson and Corker both say they will back the tax cut package if their separate concerns are satisfied. Corker, a prominent fiscal hawk, wants a measure that would prevent the tax bill from causing the federal deficit to balloon. Johnson wants a better deal for so-called pass-through enterprises that include small businesses.
Senators were working “feverishly” to address concerns, Corker told CNBC on Tuesday morning.
“I know it’s important not just to me but numbers of members who want to make sure that if for some reason these projections are off - we don’t have the growth that’s been laid out, it doesn’t generate revenues - that we’re not passing on increased debt to future generations,” he said.
Two Republican “no” votes at the committee hearing would stall the effort, as Republicans control the 23-member committee by only one vote and no Democrats are expected to support the bill.
Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress and the White House, have yet to score a major legislative victory since Trump took office in January. After their failed push to repeal Obamacare, they are eager to score a win before next year’s midterm elections, when control of the House and the Senate is at stake.