House Republican leaders said they were not surprised by the comfortable nine-vote margin by which they passed their tax overhaul bill and predicted an even bigger spread on a final package reconciled with the Senate.
“I was not surprised by any of the ‘no’ votes or the ‘yes’ votes,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise told Roll Call. “So it was a lot of work over the last week, but I was really proud of the conference and what they did for the country.”
Asked if he expects the final vote to be similar to Thursday’s 227-205 passage, Scalise said, “You never know, we could even have a higher vote by the end. But as long as you cross the finish line.”
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy also predicted gains are achievable when the House votes on whatever bill a House and Senate conference committee produces (if the Senate can pass its own bill.)
“It could go higher. The Dems worked hard to hold Dems back. I know a number of them wanted to” vote for it, McCarthy said. “Also I think you’ll see some changes affecting California and others.”
The majority leader declined to elaborate on his plans for improving the bill for his California colleagues but confirmed he was working on some issues they have that he believes will be solved. Three California Republicans voted against the bill: Reps. Darrell Issa, Dana Rohrabacher and Tom McClintock.
As for McCarthy’s assertion that some Democrats wanted to vote for the bill, Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, confirmed he had been thinking about it and that he remains open to voting for the final bill, depending what it looks like.
“What happened was the Blue Dogs we took a poll this last Tuesday and pretty much everybody to say ‘no’ on this,” the Blue Dog Coalition co-chair told Roll Call. “What I asked for was to leave the door open because if it comes back, it might be a different story.”
Cuellar’s concerns about the House bill include its heavier emphasis of corporate rate cuts over small business and individual tax relief.
“I just didn’t feel the distribution was right on that,” he said. “But once the final vote comes in, it’s different. And I’ve made that clear to everybody.”
Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady told Roll Call after the vote he’s letting the Senate doing its work and not negotiating with them at this time but that he is thinking about options for reconciling their two bills.
“We’re pivoting right away,” he said.
And like McCarthy and Scalise, Brady was not surprised by Thursday’s vote and was optimistic that the final product will produce more “yes” votes.
“I think that the surprised most of the pundits that our leaders and our members delivered that resounding of a vote in support of this,” he said, noting he was pleased.
On whether the final vote could produce similar support, Brady said, “I hope even bigger.”