The Senate tax reform bill: What time is the vote, who is for it, who is against?

Published: Thursday, November 30, 2017 @ 2:42 PM
Updated: Friday, December 01, 2017 @ 6:05 AM

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., center, speaks with the media accompanied by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., left, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, after Senate Republicans met with President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, in Washington.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., center, speaks with the media accompanied by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., left, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, after Senate Republicans met with President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, in Washington.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(Update: Several GOP senators have pushed  amendments to cover ‘a lot of concerns’ in the tax reform bill that has led to Republican leaders rewriting parts of the bill. The vote was postponed until at least some time on Friday. )

Senate Republicans leaders said Thursday they are confident they will have the votes to pass a bill by Friday that will offer, for the first time in 31 years, a major overhaul of the U.S. tax code. 

"It's almost ready to take out of the oven," Sen. Lindsay Graham, (R-S.C.), told CNN. "We're going to get there. It's just a matter of how we get there. It's not if we get there, it's just how we get there. We're gonna get a pass. We're gonna pass this tax cut bill this week."

Sen. John McCain, (R-Ariz.), who had been a holdout, announced Thursday he would vote yes on the tax reform bill. 

If it passes, the measure will give President Donald Trump a win on one of his biggest campaign promises.

The Senate bill will nearly double the standard deduction used by about 70 percent of U.S. taxpayers from $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for married couples to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for couples. The bill would eliminate the personal deduction of $4,050.

Here’s what to know about when the vote is likely, who is for it and who is on the fence, and some of the fine points of the legislation. 

When will the vote take place?

That is hard to tell, but it looks like it could be very late on Thursday or early on Friday. (Check back here for the latest update on the vote time).

What happens next?

The clock is now running for debate and when that clock runs out, time will be yielded back to the chairman, then a “vote-a-rama” will begin. A vote-a-rama is defined as 15 or more votes on a piece of legislation in one day. The votes come as senators introduce amendments to legislation. They can introduce unlimited amendments. Each amendment must be voted on. It can go on for some time. 

How many votes are needed?

For the bill to pass, 50 votes are needed. The GOP can lose two votes, leaving the vote at 50-49, and still have the bill pass, assuming all the Democratic and Independent senators vote no.

Where does the vote stand as of Thursday afternoon?

The momentum on the bill has shifted somewhat since McCain announced his decision to vote yes. As it stands now, 42 Republicans have said they intend to vote for the bill. Ten GOP senators are still considering their vote, and all 46 Democratic and both Independent senators are planning to vote no. 

Who has concerns?

These 10 senators have expressed concerns over certain parts of the bill, but have not said they will vote no.

Susan Collins (Maine)

Bob Corker (Tenn.)

Steve Daines (Mont.)

Jeff Flake (Ariz.)

Dean Heller (Nev.)

Ron Johnson (Wis.)

John Neely Kennedy (La.)

Mike Lee (Utah)

Jerry Moran (Kan.)

Marco Rubio (Fla.)

Who is in?

Forty-two GOP senators have indicated they will vote yes on the tax reform bill.

Lamar Alexander (Tenn.)

John Barrasso (Wyo.)

Roy Blunt (Mo.)

John Boozman (Ark.)

Richard Burr (N.C.)

Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.)

Bill Cassidy (La.)

Thad Cochran (Miss.)

John Cornyn (Tex.)

Tom Cotton (Ark.)

Mike Crapo (Idaho)

Ted Cruz (Tex.)

Mike Enzi (Wyo.)

Joni Ernst (Iowa)

Deb Fischer (Neb.)

Cory Gardner (Colo.)

Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.)

Charles E. Grassley (Iowa)

Orrin G. Hatch (Utah)

John Hoeven (N.D.)

James M. Inhofe (Okla.)

Johnny Isakson (Ga.)

James Lankford (Okla.)

John McCain (Ariz.)

Mitch McConnell (Ky.)

Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)

Rand Paul (Ky.)

David Perdue (Ga.)

Rob Portman (Ohio)

James E. Risch (Idaho)

Pat Roberts (Kan.)

Mike Rounds (S.D.)

Ben Sasse (Neb.)

Tim Scott (S.C.)

Richard C. Shelby (Ala.)

Luther Strange (Ala.)

Dan Sullivan (Alaska)

John Thune (S.D.)

Thom Tillis (N.C.)

Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.)

Roger Wicker (Miss.)

Todd C. Young (Ind.)

Who is out?

Every Democratic senator, plus two Independent senators (Angus King and Bernie Sanders) who caucus with the Democrats, have indicated they will vote no on the tax reform bill.

Tammy Baldwin (Wis.)

Michael Bennet (Colo.)

Richard Blumenthal (Conn.)

Cory Booker (N.J.)

Sherrod Brown (Ohio)

Maria Cantwell (Wash.)

Ben Cardin (Md.)

Tom Carper (Del.)

Bob Casey (Pa.)

Chris Coons (Del.)

Joe Donnelly (Ind.)

Tammy Duckworth (Ill.)

Dick Durbin (Ill.)

Dianne Feinstein (Calif.)

Al Franken (Minn.)

Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.)

Kamala Harris (Calif.)

Maggie Hassan (N.H.)

Martin Heinrich (N.M.)

Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.)

Mazie Hirono (Hawaii)

Tim Kaine (Va.)

Angus King (I-Maine)

Amy Klobuchar (Minn.)

Patrick Leahy (Vt.)

Joe Manchin (W.Vir.)

Ed Markey (Mass.)

Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.)

Claire McCaskill (Mo.)

Bob Menendez (N.J.)

Jeff Merkley (Ore.)

Chris Murphy (Conn.)

Patty Murray (Wash.)

Bill Nelson (Fla.)

Gary Peters (Mich.)

Jack Reed (R.I.)

Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Brian Schatz (Hawaii)

Chuck Schumer (N.Y.)

Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.)

Debbie Stabenow (Mich.)

Jon Tester (Mont.)

Tom Udall (N.M.)

Chris Van Hollen (Md.)

Mark Warner (Va.)

Elizabeth Warren (Mass.)

Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.)

Ron Wyden (Ore.)

What’s in the bill? 

From The Associated Press: 

The overall package is a blend of generous tax cuts for businesses and more modest tax cuts for families and individuals. 

The package would lower the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, and it would allow businesses owners to deduct up to 20 percent of their business income.

The plan would nearly double the standard deduction to around $12,000 for individuals and about $24,000 for married couples. The tax cuts for individuals would expire in 2026 while the corporate tax cuts would be permanent.

Click here to see some of the fine print in the bill.

What does the Senate bill mean for your taxes?

The Joint Committee on Taxation offered this analysis on how the Senate bill will affect taxpayers:
  • 61 percent of taxpayers would receive a tax cut.
  • 8 percent of taxpayers would receive a tax increase.
  • 30 percent of taxpayers would see little or no change.

Texas boy battles brain infection doctors say was caused by flu

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 2:11 PM

5 Reasons to get a Flu Shot

Witten Ramirez is fighting for his life after doctors said he contracted a brain infection caused by the flu.

Witten’s mother, Desiree, said that the whole family had the flu last week, but the 8-year-old had it worse than the others, KXAS reported.

She said he was sleeping too much and stumbled when he walked.

>> Read more trending news 

To be safe, Desiree took him to the emergency room, thinking that he might be having a reaction to medication. 

Instead, testing found that somehow the flu had caused an infection in his brain, which was attacking the part of the brain that controls movement.

Witten now cannot walk, sit, stand or talk, Desiree told KXAS.

Neurologists said the infection is called cerebellitis, an inflammatory process that can be a complication from the flu in rare cases with no risk factors.

“You can have otherwise seemingly healthy individuals whose bodies handle flu in such a way to lead to a neurologic complication, which is why we spend so much time focusing on prevention,” Dr. Benjamin Greenberg told KXAS.

Prevention, Greenberg said, is the flu vaccine.

Witten’s mother said her son didn’t get a flu shot this year as he had in previous years.

Children can recover from cerebellitis, but doing so will involve rehabilitation, which is already planned for Witten, KXAS reported

Flu outbreak forces an entire school district in Oklahoma to cancel classes for rest of week

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 1:33 AM

Universal Vaccine Could Work On Viruses, End Annual Flu Shots

An entire Oklahoma school district canceled classes Wednesday through Friday after schools reported excessive flu absences among much of the staff.

>> Read more trending news 

Morris Public Schools said Monday's absences were at 20 percent, and Tuesday's were at more than 30 percent.

Basketball teams will continue competition in the county tournament.

Wrestlers will need to contact the coach about scheduled meets.

The district asks that ill students stay home when school resumes.

The Reason the Flu Shot Didn’t Work Half the Time During Last Year’s Flu Season

Is feeding a cold a real thing? 5 winter health myths debunked

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 2:01 PM

5 Winter Health Myths

You've probably heard winter health myths for years and you may have even accepted some of them as fact.

From being told to bundle up, so you don't catch a cold to your neighbor swearing he got the flu from his flu shot, these myths make the rounds every winter.

Breathe easy: 5 household plants that improve air quality

We separate fact from fiction with the following five winter health myths:

Cold weather can make you get sick.

Mom always warned you you'd get sick if you didn't bundle up before heading out in cold weather. Her advice wasn't exactly horrible, since you'll certainly be more comfortable and protected from frostbite. But cold by itself doesn't make you more likely to get sick, according to The Weather Channel. Most experts think we're more likely to get sick in colder months, but that's because we're all cooped up together, exchanging germs. Cold weather also dries out your nasal passages, reducing their ability to filter out infections. Despite evidence to the contrary, moms will probably keep warning their kids to bundle up. It's what they do.

>> Read more trending news 

You lose 90 percent of your body heat through your head.

Of all your body parts, your head is more likely to be exposed in cold weather. But that doesn't mean the myth about losing 90 percent of your body heat through your head is true, according to Business Insider. Sure, wearing a hat in cold weather will help you stay warm, but that's just because you're covering an exposed body part, not because there's anything special about your head. You could cover up any other exposed body part and also feel warmer.

You don't need sunscreen in the winter.

If you think you only need sunscreen in hotter weather, you've probably packed your lotion away by the time winter comes around. But even when the weather's overcast in the winter, up to 80 percent of the sun's rays can still penetrate the clouds, according to Reader's digest.

UVA rays are always present - even in winter - and they can damage the deeper layers of your skin, increasing your risk for skin cancer and causing premature aging of your skin. And if you're planning a ski trip, you should be even more careful. UV radiation increases with elevation, and snow reflects and intensifies sunlight. So whatever the season, wearing sunscreen with at least a 30 SPF is the safest way to go.

Feed a cold, starve a fever.

The origin of this myth may be rooted in antiquated beliefs about colds and fevers, according to CNN. It was once believed that your body literally became colder if you had a cold, so it needed to be "warmed up" with food. Fever was thought to need "cooling down" by not eating.

In reality, you need to eat whether you have a cold or a fever. Good, nutritious foods are important, but it's OK if your illness suppresses your appetite a little. Staying hydrated is most important, especially if you have a fever. You may need to replenish electrolytes, so sports drinks can be a good choice. Good ol' chicken soup will keep you hydrated while also helping to clear your nasal passages.

RELATED: Your guide to an (almost) allergy-free home

The flu shot can give you the flu.

This isn't true, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC). Flu shots are made with either an inactive form of the virus or no flu virus at all. Neither type can give you the flu. You may have a sore arm after getting a flu shot and some people report having a low-grade fever and aches for a day or two, but it's not the flu.

On the other hand, you may still get the flu even if you've had a flu shot, but the odds of getting it are much lower and, if you do get the flu, the symptoms will likely be less severe.

13-year-old dies trying to save disabled dad from fire, father also killed

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 1:33 PM

A firefighter extinguishes a blaze in an undated photo.
Pixabay
A firefighter extinguishes a blaze in an undated photo.(Pixabay)

A 13-year-old Oklahoma boy perished in a house fire Wednesday morning as he tried unsuccessfully to save his disabled father from the flames and smoke.

The boy and his father, James Cummins, 60, were in their rural Love County home when the fire broke out. According to the Daily Ardmoreite, space heaters may have started the blaze. 

Officials with the Oklahoma Fire Marshal’s Office told the newspaper that the family had electricity at the time of the fire, but their propane for the double-wide mobile home’s heating system had run out. The boy’s mother and a sibling had left to buy more, and the family was using three space heaters to heat the home while they were gone.

Love County deputies and firefighters responded to the fire, but were unable to get inside due to debris and the fire’s intensity, Love County Sheriff Marty Grisham told the Ardmoreite

“Family members stated the father was paralyzed, so the boy went to help him get out, and they both succumbed to smoke inhalation,” Grisham said

Fire investigators determined that the fire started in the living room, but the extent of the damage made it impossible to say for sure if the space heaters caused the blaze, or if the fire was electrical in nature. 

>> Read more trending news

Judah Shepard, an investigator with the Fire Marshal’s Office, said precautions should be taken any time a space heater is used.

“They need to be at least 3 feet from any combustible material and not operated while plugged into an extension cord,” Shepard said

About 25,000 house fires in the United States each year are attributed to space heaters, according to Consumer Reports. An average of 300 people die as a result of those fires. 

The majority of those fires are caused when the heaters are placed too close to curtains, bedding or upholstered furniture. 

Aside from keeping a heater at least 3 feet away from combustibles, the publication recommends always using a heater that carries a safety certification. Certified heaters have labels with the UL mark from Underwriters Laboratories, the ETL label from Intertek or certification from CSA International. 

A portable heater should also have shut-off features, such as a sensor to shut the heater off if it overheats and a switch to shut it off if it is tipped over. 

The heater should be placed on a hard, level surface and it should be kept away from children and pets. It should be turned off when the user leaves the room or goes to bed, and the home should have working smoke detectors.