Marco Rubio a yes on GOP tax bill as child tax credit boosted

Last Updated: Friday, December 15, 2017, 3:03 PM EST

Republican Marco Rubio announced Friday that he will support his party's $1.5 trillion tax bill after party leaders made changes to the child tax credit.

  • Marco Rubio now a yes on GOP tax bill
  • Florida senator declared Thursday that he’d vote against the  bill
  • Rubio wanted expansion on tax credit that low-income Americans can claim for children

On Friday, Republicans raised the amount of credit low-income earners can claim per child on their taxes, from $1,100 to $1,400. 

Rubio tweeted that the move was, "a solid step toward broader reforms which are both Pro-Growth and Pro-Worker.”

The Florida senator declared Thursday that he’ll vote against the $1.5 trillion bill unless House and Senate negotiators expanded the tax credit that low-income Americans can claim for their children.

That put the Republicans’ razor-thin margin in the Senate closer to the edge. The GOP leaders are straining to muscle the bill through Congress next week, handing President Donald Trump his first major legislative victory by Christmas.

Senate Republicans could still have passed the package without Rubio’s vote, but they would be cutting it extremely close. An original version was approved 51-49 — with Rubio’s support. 

Republican leaders predicted swift passage next week, sending the bill to Trump for his signature.

At the White House, Trump said he was confident that Rubio will get onboard.

“He’s really been a great guy and very supportive. I think that Sen. Rubio will be there,” said Trump, who belittled Rubio during the 2016 GOP presidential primaries, calling him “little Marco.”

The tax package would double the per-child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000. The bill originally made a portion of the credit — $1,100 — available to families even if they owe no income tax. They would receive the money in the form of a tax refund, which is why it’s called a “refundable” tax credit. Rubio wanted to increase this amount.

“Given all the other changes they made in the tax code leading into it, I can’t in good conscience support it unless we are able to increase the refundable portion of it. And there’s ways to do it, and we’ll be very reasonable about it,” Rubio said.

During debate on the Senate version of the bill, Rubio proposed a change that would have made the entire $2,000 credit available to families, even if they owe no income tax, but it was soundly defeated. To pay for the expanded credit, he proposed to slightly scale back a steep cut in the corporate income tax rate.

A few days after the earlier Senate vote, Rubio tweeted a link to a news story that said GOP leaders were indeed considering scaling back the corporate tax cut — but not to pay for an expanded child tax credit.

“They freaked out when I proposed small reduction in Corporate tax cut to pay for cut for working families. Now this?” Rubio tweeted.

The final package slashes the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. The initial Senate and House bills had set it at 20 percent.