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U.S. Senate passes major tax reform, excludes unborn

Doug Mainwaring Doug Mainwaring Follow Doug

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 1, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – For the first time in over thirty years, Congress is on course to pass sweeping tax reform legislation. But in the process they omitted an innovative pro-life measure that would have granted important legal recognition to unborn children.

In a late night nailbiter, United States Senate voted 51 to 49 to approve the $1.5 trillion tax relief bill.

President Trump tweeted that he hopes to sign the bill by Christmas. “We are one step closer to delivering MASSIVE tax cuts for working families across America,” he wrote.

Missed pro-life opportunities

While a major victory for Capitol Hill Republicans, the celebratory mood of pro-life America was dampened by the eleventh hour omission of two groundbreaking amendments from the final bill.

First, the Rubio-Lee Amendment, aimed at helping lower income families benefit more fully from the increased Child Tax Credit, garnered only 29 ‘Yes’ votes, falling far short of the 60 required for passage.  Thirty Republicans voted against the measure, while 9 Democrats supported it.

Second, Senate procedural hurdles required the removal of the unborn from the 529 education savings accounts and also prevented Alaska Senator Steve Daines from offering his much anticipated amendment which would have included the unborn in the Child Tax Credit (CTC).

Rubio-Lee Amendment fails, aimed to benefit children in low-income families

The Rubio-Lee Amendment was important to many families of more modest means. The Child Tax Credit would have been refundable not just against income taxes, but also against payroll taxes.

It could have been an enormous boon to low income families who don’t earn enough money to fully benefit from an increased Child Tax Credit.

“Utah families are the big winners tonight thanks to the doubling of the child tax credit to $2,000,” said Sen. Lee in a bittersweet statement. “I wish we could have done more for working families by making that credit refundable, but we did lay the groundwork for future pro-family tax reform and I am confident we will get there someday.”

In the lead up to the vote, Senator Lee noted, “Our amendment would make a small change in this bill, but a huge difference in the lives of working families.”

"We need pro-growth and pro-worker tax reform, and that’s what this amendment aims to do by allowing working families to keep more of their own hard-earned money,” added Senator Rubio.

“We have a chance to do better by working families in this tax bill,” Senator Lee explained previously.  “Right now, 70 percent of the tax cuts we’re considering would go to businesses, and only 30 percent to individuals. This amendment would level the playing field for families, while still kick-starting national investment and growth. By increasing access to the Child Tax Credit, we can increase working family fairness and deliver overdue relief to America’s greatest investor class: our moms and dads.”

Innovative pro-life measure would have extended tax credit to cover the preborn

Montana Senator Steve Daines’ amendment to the Senate’s tax reform bill would have made the Child Tax Credit applicable to unborn children from the time of their conception.

In the run up to the crucial Senate vote, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said allowing parents to receive a Child Tax Credit for their unborn babies would be “a huge pro-life and pro-family win” and predicted it would “help individual families and the economy by helping parents better handle the new costs of raising their children.”

Author of the innovative amendment, pro-life Montana Senator Daines told EWTN, “What this means long term is if we talk about, perhaps, overturning Roe v Wade someday, it gives us that much more strength in terms of a law that says what that woman is carrying is a life, and that could have some significant implications long term.”

“By including unborn children to qualify for the Child Tax Credit,” said Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser before the crucial vote.  “Congress would achieve a significant pro-life win for families preparing for their baby’s birth.”

"We often hear from pro-abortion advocates that many women choose abortion because they don’t have the resources to care for a newborn," noted Dannenfelser. "By expanding the Child Tax Credit to cover unborn children, families will receive a double credit in their first year after the baby is born — giving them greater ability to pay for costly hospital bills, diapers, clothes, formula, and lost wages due to time off after delivery."

"Moms and dads start planning and preparing for their baby’s birth as soon as they learn about their pregnancy,” said FRC head Perkins, expressing a similar sentiment.  “Parents take off time for doctor’s appointments, stock up on diapers, formula, clothes and swaddles.  And, they plan financially to take time from work to care for and bond with their baby.”

Final steps to becoming law

Now that the bill has passed, it will go through a process of reconciliation with the tax reform package passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.  A committee composed of members of both the House and Senate will produce a final version of the legislation to be approved by both the chambers.

There are some significant differences between the two tax reform packages, but Capitol Hill’s upper and lower chambers are expected to be able to resolve those differences quickly so that the completed legislation can be delivered to President Trump’s desk, ready for him to sign into law before Christmas.


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