Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) is expected to vote in favor of President Trump’s sweeping tax cuts. He got absolutely nothing in return.
Flake made headlines in October when he announced he would not be seeking re-election, denouncing President Trump as he did so. He’s continued to rail against both Trump and Trump acolytes like accused pedophile Roy Moore, with a hot mic catching him saying “If we become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast” at an event in November.
However, as a senator, Flake has voted with Trump 90 percent of the time. And in the Friday afternoon vote on the tax bill before the senate, Flake is expected to side with Trump yet again on a bill that would be Trump’s first major legislative accomplishment (assuming House Republicans send the bill to Trump’s desk).
Jake Tapper of CNN tweeted that Flake agreed to support the bill in exchange for Senate Republicans pledging to, at some point, provide a solution for undocumented immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Flake signs on to tax bill partly in exchange for pledge by Senate GOP leadership and Truml administration “to work with me on a growth-oriented legislative solution to enact fair and permanent protections for DACA recipients.” 1/
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) December 1, 2017
Flake’s vote was especially critical for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to whip, as Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) had still not been moved over to the “yes” column as of Friday morning due to concerns they had over the bill’s finer details.
Corker — an anti-Trump Republican who is also not running for reelection — was concerned about the $1 trillion that would be added to the federal deficit as a result of the tax cuts, and Collins had reservations about the bill’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate for health insurance. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that 13 million Americans would lose their health insurance — thereby increasing premiums for everyone else — without the individual mandate.
With Flake on board, Senate Republicans will be able to pass their tax cut bill with 50 votes plus a tiebreaker vote from Vice President Mike Pence under budget reconciliation rules.
Matthew P. Robbins is a freelance economics contributor covering wages, budgets, and taxes. He lives in Chicago, Illinois with his husband and two cats.