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Marco Rubio and Bob Corker Announce Support for Tax Legislation

Senators Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) announced on Friday their support for the GOP's tax reform legislation. Corker was the lone GOP senator to vote against the legislation, over deficit concerns, when it passed the Senate, while Rubio had expressed opposition to it yesterday due to concerns over the Child Tax Credit.

Rubio, along with Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), had proposed an amendment to the bill when it was first being debated on the Senate floor earlier this month. In comparison to the version of the tax bill that passed the Senate, the Rubio-Lee amendment would have expanded the CTC in two ways: by reducing the credit's refundability threshold (so that low-income families would begin earning the credit with their first dollar of earnings, as opposed to only earnings over $2,500 being eligible for the credit) and lifting the cap on the portion of the credit that's refundable (which the original Senate bill set at $1,100).

Those changes would have done quite a bit to help lower-income American families. For example, a single mother earning $14,500 a year, with two children, would have seen her CTC increase by $494 (as opposed to by only $75, under the original Senate bill).

But the compromise that Rubio seems to have negotiated in exchange for his vote falls well short of the promise of the Rubio-Lee amendment. According to reporting from the Wall Street Journal, the final version of the tax reform legislation will increase the proportion of the credit that's refundable (to $1,400, out of a total possible per-child credit of $2,000). The legislation, however, maintains the $2,500 threshold, so earnings below that amount aren't eligible for the CTC, which means that many very low-income Americans will see only a very small benefit from this change (although those earning slightly more will see a bigger boost thanks to Rubio's efforts). Under this scenario, the single mom working full-time at the minimum wage will, as under the original version of the Senate bill, see only a $75 increase in her CTC as compared to current law. The GOP is paying for this change by limiting eligibility for the credit to families with children under the age of 17, which is the age limit under current law; the earlier version of the Senate bill had expanded eligibility to families with children under the age of 18.

It's unclear what caused Corker to change his mind, since his deficit concerns have not been addressed.

The legislation, however, is now almost certain to pass.