Maine Sen. Collins not ready to commit to GOP tax overhaul
With crucial votes looming on a GOP tax overhaul, Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is finding herself once again in the role of casting a pivotal vote — and once again playing her cards close to the vest.
Collins said Thursday she was happy to see that the GOP leadership was willing to consider amending the proposal for the first overhaul of the tax code in three decades, but she was noncommittal as to whether she’d support the bill. She wants to see what the bill looks like after amendments.
“I have a lot of concerns that I’m trying to fix,” she said Thursday before debate began in Washington.
She said it would be “very problematic for me” and hard for her to vote for the bill if it still includes eliminating the federal deduction for state and local taxes.
An amendment she offered would let homeowners deduct up to $10,000 in property taxes. She would make up the estimated $146 billion in lost revenue by keeping the personal income tax rate for the wealthiest earners at 39.6 percent and making a smaller cut in the corporate tax rate.
It was one of four amendments she proposed.
Collins isn’t afraid to buck her party. She was one of three Republican senators who sunk the Republican Senate proposal to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
The tax overhaul got a boost Thursday from the support of two Republican senators, John McCain of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. The two had joined Collins in voting against the GOP health care proposal over the summer.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he expected a final vote on the tax overhaul late Thursday or early Friday in the closely divided Senate. If it’s approved, lawmakers would then try to reconcile the Senate package with one passed by the House.
Collins is accustomed to being a swing vote.
She announced in October that she’d forgo a run for governor in her home state to stay in the Senate where she holds influence as one of a handful of moderates.
“My voice and vote really matter in Washington right now. The Senate is closely divided and I am able to make a difference,” she told The Associated Press.