Herrera Beutler votes in favor of tax bill

By Katy Sword, Columbian staff writer

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Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, was one of 227 votes Tuesday to approve the House’s final version of the GOP tax-cut bill.

And she will likely vote in favor of the bill again when it returns to the House on Wednesday. The bill required amendments because a few provisions violated Senate rules, meaning the House will have to once again vote on the bill after Senate approval.

“The bill we passed (Tuesday) improves on the earlier version I voted for in several measurable ways for folks in all phases of life — from those preparing to begin their careers to those in retirement,” Herrera Beutler said in a press release.

The bill is a revised version of the original tax plan proposed by the Senate and House. The chambers convened a conference committee to work out the differences in the proposal.

Key points of interest include the keeping the tax deductions for mortgage interest and state and local taxes for those who itemize. Those deductions have been reduced, however. Mortgage interest is reduced from $1 million to $750,000 and SALT deductions now have a $10,000 cap, where there was none before.

The standard deduction will still increase to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples, and tax rates will be lowered. The cuts for individuals sunset in 2025. The corporate tax rate reduction from 35 percent to 21 percent is permanent.

“Importantly, this bill will boost the economy in a manner that will provide tangible benefits to hardworking folks from Bucoda to Vancouver, from bigger paychecks to more job opportunities,” Herrera Beutler said. “We read about the ‘recovery’ from the Great Recession that may be benefiting Wall Street, but hasn’t boosted workers’ take-home pay or helped enough of the families continuing to live paycheck to paycheck.”

In the hours before the Senate vote, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called on Republicans to slow down and work with Democrats on the bill.

“Instead of working out in the open on this tax plan — Republicans worked in back rooms, where nobody could see what they were doing,” Murray tweeted. “And they didn’t listen to actual middle class families who would be impacted.”

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., referred to the findings by the Joint Committee on Taxation. The committee found more than 35 million middle-class households will see their taxes increase by 2027.

“Gouging middle class families to pay for corporate tax breaks is just wrong,” Cantwell tweeted. “We need tax reform that invests in the middle class and grows our economy from the middle out.”

The bill also eliminates the Affordable Care Act penalty, meaning there is no financial penalty for those filing taxes without proof of health insurance, and also effectively eliminates the insurance mandate.