GOP Reps in region split as tax bill passes

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After senators worked past midnight to pass the Republican tax bill, Walter Arandia distributes copies of the daily legislative calendar before lawmakers return, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, early Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017.

After senators worked past midnight to pass the Republican tax bill, Walter Arandia distributes copies of the daily legislative calendar before lawmakers return, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, early Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

Republican congressional representatives from Pennsylvania stuck with their party to approve the controversial GOP tax plan again Wednesday, while all but one of the five New Jersey Republicans in Congress voted against the measure.

The Senate also approved the plan on a party line vote, with all Republicans voting in favor and all Democrats opposed.  Due to technical errors in the package voted on Tuesday, the House had to approve it again before sending it to President Donald Trump.

New Jersey Reps. Frank LoBiondo, Leonard Lance, Chris Smith, and Rodney Frelinghuysen voted against the measure, primarily because the final package limits deductions for state and local taxes to $10,000. In New Jersey, the average property tax bill is $8,500 a year, and in some suburban communities bills of $20,000 or more are common.

U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur was the only New Jersey Republican to vote in favor of the measure.

It’s an important vote for MacArthur and three Republicans in the Philadelphia suburbs who Democrats hope to defeat next year – U.S. Reps. Ryan Costello in the 6th District,  Pat Meehan in the 7th District, and Brian Fitzpatrick in the 8th District.

Republicans voting in favor said the package will bring tax reductions to middle-class families and spur growth in the economy.

Costello said in a statement that many of the problems cited in earlier versions of the bill were resolved.

“The teacher-supplies deduction remains. The child tax credit has been expanded,” Costello said. “The charitable deduction continues and expands. We have maintained the earned income tax credit. We have improved savings accounts for education. Tuition waivers for graduate students will remain untaxed.”

All the region’s Democrats voted against the bill, saying the biggest benefits in the package go to corporations and the wealthy, while the breaks for middle-class taxpayers expire in a few years.

U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, a Democrat who represents parts of North and West Philadelphia and Lower Merion, said the bill will also send the deficit soaring.

“The Republican Party always talks a big game about how Democrats are the party of taxing and spending, but today it was the Republican Party who peddled a sham bill to hard-working Americans that shifts the financial burden on generations to come,” Evans said in a statement.

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