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White House official says GOP has deal on tax cuts

DARTUNORRO CLARK and PETER ALEXANDER, NBC - WASHINGTON (NBC) -- A White House official said Wednesday that Republicans in the House and Senate have reached an agreement in principle on their sweeping tax package.

This official says they're hoping to have a vote in Senate first, then the House, with the legislation done in Congress by next Wednesday.

The announcement came just hours after Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Republicans to "hit pause" on their tax bill until Alabama winner Doug Jones takes his seat.

"It would be wrong for Senate Republicans to jam through this tax bill without giving the newly elected Senator for Alabama the opportunity to cast his vote," Schumer said. "He won an election."

Republicans have been scrambling to finalize the sweeping tax bill within the next week by reconciling differences in the House and Senate plans and getting the legislation to President Donald Trump for his signature.

However, Jones' stunning upset victory against GOP candidate Roy Moore Tuesday night shaved a once safe seat away from the Republicans' narrow majority in the Senate, decreasing it to 51 once Jones is seated, and potentially placing the tax plan in jeopardy.

"Will they have the strength and political foresight to start over or at least to modify their bill?" Schumer asked. "Or will they just bow ahead pretending not to hear the voices of the middle class crying about against this will?"

Schumer noted the similar dilemma Democrats faced in 2010, when Republican Scott Brown beat Democrat Martha Coakley in a Massachusetts Senate special election, costing Democrats a key vote in the Senate as they were finalizing Obamacare.

"I am convinced now that no gamesmanship will be played by the other side with regard to future votes in the Senate," Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in 2010, when he was serving as the minority leader.

Then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said his party would not "rush into anything" and "wait until the new senator arrives" until they moved forward with health care.

"McConnell ought to do what he said ought to be done in 2010 and what we did in 2010 - delay until Doug Jones get here and can cast a vote. Plain and simple," Schumer said.

Jones' victory will likely be made official by Alabama in late December and he could take his Senate seat after that.

McConnell's office did not respond to a request for comment.


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