The Senate voted Wednesday to open debate on a $1.4 trillion tax bill after Republican leaders worked out preliminary deals to the smooth over the concerns of several Republican lawmakers.
The final tally was 52-48, passing strictly along party lines. The vote means the bill is now open to debate and unlimited amendments, several of which are expected to win approval and become part of the base bill.
Debate began shortly after President Trump promoted the GOP tax reform plan in St. Charles, Missouri.
“As President Trump made clear today, fixing our broken tax code is about two things, helping hardworking Missouri families keep more of what they earn and ensuring there are more opportunities and better-paying jobs for every American,” Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said after the speech.
The base legislation lowers corporate and individual tax rates while ending many deductions. It also effectively repeals Obamacare’s mandate to purchase health insurance by eliminating the fine for not having coverage.
The Senate has voted to advance and begin debate on the GOP tax plan that allows expectant parents to contribute to their unborn baby’s 529 college savings account. The tax plan, for the first time ever, recognizes that unborn children are human beings from conception.
“Nothing shall prevent an unborn child from being treated as a designated beneficiary,” the plan says. It defines an unborn child as a “child in utero” which “means a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.”
Under the provision, parents will be permitted to name unborn children as beneficiaries of 529 College Savings Plans, and be able to start saving for their unborn child’s education before the baby is born. This would be the first time the unborn child has been written into the tax code.
“Adoption affirms the unborn child’s right to life, allowing each baby to enter the world as a blessing for another family. While in effect, the adoption tax credit has served as an effective way to encourage adoption by easing the often steep financial expense that can be incurred by adopting a child,” she added. “The pro-life movement has long promoted adoption as an alternative for single mothers facing crisis pregnancy situations, offering them a viable alternative to abortion. Keeping the adoption process easier for families who want to adopt can offer encouragement to those mothers considering adoption as an alternative.”
The unborn child is recognized in other places in the code, as in the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (also known as “Laci and Conner’s Law”), enacted in 2004 after a five-year effort led by the National Right to Life Committee. The law recognizes that when a criminal attacks a pregnant woman, and injures or kills both her and her unborn child, he has claimed two human victims.
Additionally, National Right to Life worked to ensure that the House bill restored the long-existing adoption tax credit, and applauds House leadership for their effort.
Abortion advocates blasted the plan.
NARAL’s Kaylie Hanson Long responded to the language saying, “the GOP’s relentless obsession with advancing its dangerous anti-choice ideology knows no boundaries and no common sense. Inserting ‘personhood’ language into their tax bill is just the latest example of how they’re trying to turn back the clock on this country.”
And Dana Singiser, Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs with the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, seemed to think the language in the bill would restrict abortion in some way.
“It is absurd that House Republican leaders would use a tax bill to try to advance their relentless agenda to undermine access to safe, legal abortion,” she said. “Denying women access to safe, legal abortion is wildly out of touch with the majority of Americans. Politicians in Washington, DC have no place inserting themselves in decisions about women’s health and lives, not on this bill and not on any bill.”
Pro-life advocates, including March for Life president Jeanne Mancini, praised the language.
“House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) deserves praise for including language in this tax bill that recognizes the personhood of unborn children by allowing expectant parents to contribute to their child’s 529 education savings account in the year prior to birth,” she said. “A child in the womb is just as human as you or I yet, until now, the U.S. tax code has failed to acknowledge the unborn child – all while granting tax breaks for those seeking an abortion under the pretense of ‘healthcare’. The proposed tax plan is a huge leap forward for an antiquated tax code, and we hope this is the first step in expanding the child tax credit to include unborn children as well.”
Mallory Quigley, communications director for the Susan B. Anthony List called the language, “a small increment in the momentum that we’re building to ensure that one day every child is welcomed and protected under the law.”