Missouri U.S. House Members Vote Party Lines on Tax Plan

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WASHINGTON — Missouri’s eight U.S. House members voted along party lines on the Republican tax plan yesterday.

Based on a Friday vote in committee, it’s looking to be the same arrangement in the Senate. More on the upper chamber coming up.

First, GOP leaders delivered on their pledge get a tax package through the lower chamber by Thanksgiving, and have beaten that schedule by a week.

The six Missouri Republicans, who have all given vocal support to the proposal in its various stages, were in the “yes” column yesterday.  Both Democrats, who represent the more liberal urban areas of St. Louis and Kansas City, voted no.

The statements following the vote from each side represented two divergent interpretations of the bill.

Seventh District Republican Billy Long, like his colleagues in the GOP, stressed the measure’s fair treatment of working people.  “We need reform that is simple, fair and easy.  Hardworking Americans deserve a break and that is what we plan on giving them: a tax cut and a pay raise,” said Long.  “After all, people know what to do with their money better than the government does.”

Fourth District GOP member Vicky Hartzler echoed Long’s thoughts on working people, while noting the plan is simple and delivers on the promise to cut corporate taxes.

“Today we voted to bring tax relief to hard-working families in Missouri and across the United States who, for too long, have had to focus on just getting by instead of getting ahead,” Hartzler said.  “This tax plan simplifies the tax code, allows Missouri families to keep more of their paychecks, and enables American businesses to grow, expand, and compete again in the world.”

Sixth District Republican Sam Graves also paid tribute to the measure’s provisions for the middle class, while touting how the increase in the standard deduction would benefit his constituents.

“Over the last few decades, our broken tax code has failed Americans. Today, with this passage, we are one step closer to delivering on our promise to bring more jobs, fairer taxes, and bigger paychecks to middle-class Americans” said Graves.  “Currently, only around 28% of people living in North Missouri choose to itemize their tax returns.  That means that around 70% take the standard deduction.  With this legislation, North Missourians would effectively double the amount of money they can write off on their taxes.”

Meanwhile, First District Democrat William Lacy Clay slammed the package for harming working and middle-class people, while reminding readers that it increases the deficit.

“The Republican tax scam passed today in the U.S. House betrays working families, explodes the debt, and punishes students, seniors, and homeowners.  It will raise taxes on 36 million middle-class families. It will bury student loan holders even deeper in debt by eliminating the deduction for student loan interest,” Clay said.  “House Republicans not only raised taxes on millions of Americans today, they voted to add $1.5 trillion to the national debt, which our children and grandchildren will have to pay for.”

In the Senate, Missouri’s Republican member has been a spokesperson of sorts for the chamber’s effort on a tax plan by making appearances on national TV, including last Sunday on Fox News.  Roy Blunt also took to the Senate floor Wednesday to promote the plan’s generosity toward working people in the state and its simplicity.

“According to the Tax Foundation, under the Senate’s proposal, middle-income families in Missouri would see an increase of $2400 of their after-tax income,” Blunt said.  “This proposal would make our tax code simpler and easier to understand by just simply cutting out all the deductions that only a few people are able to take advantage of so that everybody looks at the tax code and has more reason to believe that not only is everybody being treated fairly, but everybody is being treated the same.”

Blunt, who sits on the Appropriations Committee, notably, did not mention a controversial component in the Senate plan which repeals the Affordable Care Act mandate.

Missouri’s Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, who faces a tight re-election race next year, added clarity to her position with her action as a member of the Finance Committee Friday.  After voting against the tax plan that was approved by the committee, she referred to it as “a bad deal for Missouri families”, and called on Republicans to change their proposal.

“I wanted to support real tax reform. This isn’t it-this is a bad deal for Missouri families. Working people in Missouri deserve better than to get scraps, while corporations and wealthy business owners make out like bandits in a plan that explodes our deficit and compromises our military,” said McCaskill.  “But I’m still going to keep fighting for my state-and if Congressional leaders decide to toss out this proposal and start fresh with a genuinely bipartisan approach that delivers real tax relief to working people, cleans out the loopholes exploited by the rich and corporations, and lowers the corporate tax rate, I’ll be the first to sign up.”

McCaskill is seeking to hold her seat for a third term next year in a state President Trump won by 19 points last year.  The most recent poll has her behind slightly behind Republican challenger Josh Hawley, who is the state’s Attorney General.

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