GOP tax reform bill cleared for Senate floor as Trump presses for action

As a Senate committee voted on Tuesday afternoon to send a GOP tax reform bill to the floor for debate, President Donald Trump used a closed door lunch meeting at the U.S. Capitol to urge GOP Senators to push ahead on a tax reform plan, even as Republicans struggled to figure out a batch of last minute changes to the bill, in hopes of gaining Senate approval of the measure in coming days.

"It was outstanding," the President said of the meeting on tax reform, as he called it a 'love fest.'

"He came and urged all the Republican members of the Senate to get the job done, to get tax reform passed," said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

"It went extremely well from my point of view," said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA).

GOP Senators described the meeting as a frank exchange of ideas on how the tax reform bill could be improved, but that no deals were hammered out in the session with the President.

As for that search for 50 votes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said to reporters that he still doesn't have that number of votes.

"It's a challenging exercise," the Senate leader said. "Imagine sitting there with a Rubik's cube trying to get to fifty."

"It's a work in progress," acknowledged Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), who said he thinks the GOP will continue to rally around the Republican tax plan.

"People really want to get to yes on this," Risch added after the meeting with the President.

Despite some talk that they might vote against the plan in committee, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) voted to keep the process moving, as Republicans keep looking for a magic formula to find 50 votes on taxes in the Senate.

The vote was 12-11 - straight along party lines - in the Senate Budget Committee, as demonstrators chanted "Shame!" and "Kill the bill!"

"This is a bad bill," said Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), summing up the simple opposition of Democrats to the plan. "If you truly care about the deficit and the debt, this is a disaster."

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