Rubio’s Gambit Pays Off, Partially — Deal Struck to Expand Child Tax Credit

Posted at 2:15 pm on December 15, 2017 by Sarah Rumpf

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) made headlines yesterday when it was reported that he would refuse to support the Republican tax bill unless the child tax credit was expanded. Now, it looks like Rubio’s gambit has paid off — at least partially — as the latest version of the bill is said to contain an increased child tax credit. Not as much as Rubio had wanted, but still an increase.

The election of Democrat Doug Jones in the Alabama Senate race gave Rubio’s demands more weight, as Republicans have only a slim 52-48 majority in the Senate. Republicans were desperately fighting for every single vote and facing a compressed time schedule to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill and pass something before the Christmas holidays and Jones’ swearing in.

With Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) saying he wouldn’t support the bill because of the impacts on the federal  deficit, and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who had joined Rubio in supporting the expanded child tax credit, indicating he too was considering refusing to vote for the bill without an increased credit, the bill was at risk of dying.

Today, a deal has been reached that should save the bill. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) told reporters that the revisions would increase the refundable part of the child tax credit from $1,100 per child to $1,400, which she believed would be sufficient to get Rubio on board.

Two sources later confirmed to CNBC that Rubio would indeed support this latest version of the bill. Lee still has not given a final answer on his vote, but with Rubio now a yes, his support seems more likely.

As I noted yesterday, Rubio has been spending a lot of energy arguing for an expanded child tax credit over the past few weeks, and stood to look like he “fought for working families as long as he either successfully gets the expanded child tax credit he wants, or follows through and votes against the bill.”

Rush Limbaugh was dismissive of Rubio on his radio show earlier, saying that Rubio was taking this stand only for “attention” and would definitely cave and vote for the bill even if he didn’t get what he wanted. The truth is that this is not the full increase in the child tax credit that Rubio wanted, but it is a partial victory. 

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), chairman of the joint House and Senate conference committee that drafted the final bill, told reporters that he had signed off on a conference report finalizing the bill and the revised text would be released at 5:30 pm today.

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker

This post has been cross-posted at The Capitolist.