House passes sweeping GOP tax reform bill as focus shifts to Senate

In a major legislative victory for Republicans and President Trump, the House on Thursday approved a sweeping overhaul of the federal tax code, sending the plan to an uncertain future in the Senate, which will try to vote on its own version of tax changes after Thanksgiving.

In an afternoon tweet, the President called it a 'big step toward fulfilling our promise" on tax cuts, and that was echoed by GOP lawmakers in the House.

"A historic day," said Rep. Karen Handel (R-GA), as cheering broke out on the House floor as the vote count went over a majority for the bill, which has been a top agenda item for Republicans and the White House.

"This is a promise made, and a promise delivered," added Handel, who stood by the GOP drive for tax reform in a heated special election earlier this year.

"We're going to see the economy take off," said a smiling Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) just after the vote, as he praised the help of President Trump in convincing GOP lawmakers to stick with the tax reform plan, despite a lot of provisions that could have proved nettlesome for the GOP effort.

There were 13 Republicans who voted against the bill, most of them from states which would be hit hard by changes in the state and local tax deduction - New Jersey, New York and California.

"The last time they did tax reform, it took two years," said Rep. Pete King (R-NY), who has argued that Republicans are rushing too fast to make these changes.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where a series of hurdles already exist - the cost of the plan, the temporary nature of the individual tax cuts, questions about how small businesses are treated in both bills, and more.

Floor debate in the Senate is not expected to start until after Thanksgiving.

"We've got a long road ahead of us," acknowledged Speaker Paul Ryan.

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