WASHINGTON — The Senate effort to approve a tax overhaul Saturday was urgent enough that last-minute changes were handwritten into the margins.
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.”
UPDATE: Senate Republicans are so desperate to pass their tax bill tonight that they're now making handwritten changes to their already handwritten changes...— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) December 2, 2017
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.
"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??”
Okay this is absurd. One page of the new #GOPTaxPlan is crossed out with an ex. Another page is just a line. Is that a crossout? Is this page part of the bill?— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) December 1, 2017
WHY AM I ASKING THESE QUESTIONS HOURS BEFORE WE VOTE ON IT?? #GOPTaxScam pic.twitter.com/57Qbi7gT5F
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.
So here’s one example of crazy-town tonight. Handwritten in the margins buried in the bill. Which we just got. Drawing is my editorial comment. pic.twitter.com/4jVu4cafbD— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) December 2, 2017
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.
We are one step closer to delivering MASSIVE tax cuts for working families across America. Special thanks to @SenateMajLdr Mitch McConnell and Chairman @SenOrrinHatch for shepherding our bill through the Senate. Look forward to signing a final bill before Christmas! pic.twitter.com/gmWTny3SfS— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2017
“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.