Senate passes tax bill with handwritten provisions in rush to finish


WASHINGTON — The Senate effort to approve a tax overhaul Saturday was urgent enough that last-minute changes were handwritten into the margins.

»RELATED: Senate passes sweeping tax overhaul bill by 51-49 vote

The Senate voted 51-49 about 2 a.m. to approve the 479-page bill, which must still be reconciled with a House version to become law.         

Because changes were being negotiated almost to the end, the final version released about 8:30 p.m. Friday contained crossed-out pages and amendments written in the margins.         

“Senate Republicans are so desperate to pass their tax bill tonight that they're now making handwritten changes to their already handwritten changes...” Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., tweeted. “Seriously.”    

     

The method isn’t unprecedented on fast-moving legislation in floor votes, which are then typeset and printed on special paper before signing.         

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said after the bill was approved that it was handled through regular rules with several days of Finance Committee voting and plenty of opportunities for Democrats to offer amendments on the Senate floor.         

»RELATED: The Latest: GOP leaders alter tax bill to win more votes

"You complain about process when you're losing, and that's what you heard on the floor tonight," McConnell said early Saturday.

But the pace stoked Democratic outrage among senators already upset with provisions in the bill.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., tweeted about one page crossed out with an X and another with a single line drawn top to bottom.

“Okay this is absurd,” Menendez said. “Is that a crossout? Is this page part of the bill? WHY AM I ASKING THESE QUESTIONS HOURS BEFORE WE VOTE ON IT??”      

   

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said in a Facebook post that if his constituents could read all of the words, they’ve got better eyes than him.         

“This is unbelievable,” Tester said. “We’re doing massive tax reform on an absolute, incredible timeline.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., tweeted a picture of a rich character from "Monopoly" next to the handwritten phrasing.

"So here's one example of crazy-town tonight," she said.

The tax overhaul was a top legislative priority this year for Republicans who control Congress and the White House. President Trump had pushed Congress to complete the tax overhaul before the end of the year.    

     

“The Administration looks forward to working with Congress to fulfill the promise we made to deliver historic tax cuts for the American people by the end of the year,” the White House said in a statement Saturday.        

»RELATED: Montana Sen. Jon Tester's displeasure with tax bill goes viral 


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