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Congress passes tax reform after contentious debate

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The U.S. Congress has passed a major overhaul of the country’s tax code, but not before a parliamentary rejection of some of the bill’s provisions forced the U.S. House of Representatives to vote on the legislation again Wednesday.

The bill will, among other things, replace the current structure of corporate income tax rates, which has a top rate of 35%, with a 21% rate, and eliminate what some observers have deemed an unfair advantage or loophole that allowed foreign insurers to move their U.S.-generated insurance profits abroad to avoid tax. 

“Today, the House and Senate took an important step in reforming our tax code,” David Pearce, vice president and director of tax policy for the Washington-based American Insurance Association, said in a statement. “In addition to a more competitive corporate rate, AIA supports this simpler, fairer approach, especially as it relates to our industry’s unique business model. We look forward to continuing to work with Congress on our remaining priorities.”

The U.S. Senate passed the legislation early Wednesday morning on a 51-48 vote after the House initially adopted it by a on a 227-203 vote Tuesday afternoon. However, the Senate parliamentarian rejected three provisions as inconsistent with Senate rules, forcing the House to conduct another vote on Wednesday afternoon. The House voted 224-201 to agree with the changes made by the Senate, but not before another round of contentious debate on the House floor.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., urged her colleagues to vote against the measure.

“Today is a very sad day in the history of America because we have on the floor probably the worst bill in recent time … because so many people are affected in such a negative way,” she said.

But Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, chair of the conference committee that reconciled the House and Senate versions of the bill, rejected the “false claims and statements” made by Democrats about the impact of the bill, particularly on middle-class families.

The bill now goes to President Donald Trump for his signature.