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US Congress passes Trump's landmark tax reform bill

December 21, 2017 10:03 IST

IMAGE: US President Donald Trump celebrates with senior administration officials and Republican lawmakers the passage of the most sweeping US tax overhaul in over 30 years by the Congress. Speaking to the US public from the South Lawns of the White House, the US president said, "We can say "Merry Christmas" again. People are saying "Merry Christmas" again, and we like the sound." Photograph: Johnathan Ernst/Reuters

The United States Congress on Thursday passed a sweeping overhaul of the US tax code in more than 30 years, giving President Donald Trump his first major legislative victory amid criticism that the package disproportionately benefit the wealthy and corporations.

The momentous occasion came when the House of Representatives passed the $1.5 trillion (Rs 96 lakh crore) tax reform bill for the second time by 224 to 201 votes to clear the technical snag in the passage of the bill, which was passed by the Senate and House earlier.

The bill now heads to the White House for President Trump to sign into law.

 

“I promised the American people a big, beautiful tax cut for Christmas. With final passage of this legislation, that is exactly what they are getting,” Trump said in a statement soon after the bill was passed.

Thanking members of Congress who supported the historic bill, which represents an extraordinary victory for American families, workers and businesses, Trump said unemployment continues to fall, the stock market is at a record high and wages will soon be on the rise.

“By cutting taxes and reforming the broken system, we are now pouring rocket fuel into the engine of our economy. America is back to winning again, and we’re growing like never before,” Trump said.

“There is a great spirit of optimism sweeping across our land. Americans can once again rest assured that our brightest days are still to come,” he said.

The legislation represents the most drastic changes to the US tax code since 1986.

Earlier, in both the Senate and the House, the bill was passed on a partisan basis, with Democratic lawmakers voting against it.

The Senate voted after mid-night to pass the bill by 51 to 48 votes. In the House it was passed by 227 to 203 votes.

The Democrats were highly critical of the tax reform bill.

“The American people have been robbed of the substantive and exhaustive debate in Congress they deserve on a $1.5 trillion bill that will shake up our entire economy and cripple our nation’s spending power for decades to come,” said Senator Tom Carper.

According to Wall Street Journal, the tax plan offers deep tax cuts for businesses, lower rates for many individuals and a narrower estate tax. Corporate shareholders, business owners and most households will win, at least in the first few years.

“But there will be losers, too, including some households living in regions where state and local taxes are high. Most of the tax cuts will take effect in January, and many workers will see bigger paychecks from reduced tax withholding by February,” the daily said.

The wealthy would see far more relief than the middle class and working poor, the Washington Post said.

The plan would revise nearly every part of the tax system by lowering income tax rates at all levels and restructuring deductions, it added.

Lalit K Jha
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