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Trump hails US Senate passing of £1.1tn tax overhaul

The measure focuses its tax reductions on businesses and high earners.

The tax bill will be one of President Trump's biggest legislative wins.
The tax bill will be one of President Trump's biggest legislative wins. PA

US President Donald Trump has hailed the Republicans victory of passing a nearly $1.5 trillion (£1.1 trillion) tax overhaul bill through the Senate.

It was passed by 51 votes to 49 after a burst of eleventh-hour horse trading.

"We are one step closer to delivering MASSIVE tax cuts for working families across America," the president tweeted.

Mr Trump also said he was looking forward to "signing a final bill before Christmas!".

The measure focuses its tax reductions on businesses and higher-earning individuals, gives more modest breaks to others and offers the boldest rewrite of the nation's tax system since 1986.

Republicans touted the package as one that would benefit people of all incomes and ignite the economy.

It was a major triumph for a party yet to achieve legislative success all year and a giant step toward giving Mr Trump one of his top priorities by Christmas.

"Big bills are rarely popular. You remember how unpopular 'Obamacare' was when it passed?" Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in an interview, shrugging off polls showing scant public enthusiasm for the measure.

He added that the legislation would prove to be "just what the country needs to get growing again".

Media surround Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Media surround Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. PA

Even an official projection of a $1 trillion, 10-year flood of deeper budget deficits couldn't dissuade GOP senators from rallying behind the bill.

Senator Bob Corker was the only lawmaker to cross party lines.

"Obviously I'm kind of a dinosaur on the fiscal issues," said Mr Corker, who battled to keep the bill from worsening the government's accumulated $20 trillion (£14.85 trillion) in IOUs.

The Republican-led House approved a similar bill last month in what has been a stunningly swift trip through Congress for complex legislation that impacts the breadth of American society.

The two chambers will now try crafting a final compromise to send to Mr Trump.

Protests against the bill were held on Capital Hill earlier in the week.
Protests against the bill were held on Capital Hill earlier in the week. AP

After spending the year's first nine months futilely trying to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law, GOP leaders were determined to move the measure rapidly before opposition Democrats and lobbying groups could blow it up.

The party views passage as crucial to retaining its House and Senate majorities in next year's elections.

Democrats derided the bill as a Republican gift to its wealthy and business backers at the expense of lower-earning people. They contrasted the bill's permanent reduction in corporate income tax rates from 35% to 20% to smaller individual tax breaks that would end in 2026.

Congress' non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation has said the bill's reductions for many families would be modest and said by 2027, families earning under $75,000 (£55,000) would on average face higher, not lower, taxes.

The bill is "removed from the reality of what the American people need," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

He criticised Republicans for releasing a revised, 479-page bill that no one can absorb shortly before the final vote, saying, "The Senate is descending to a new low of chicanery."

 Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (second left) said the bill is 'removed from the reality'.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (second left) said the bill is 'removed from the reality'. AP

"You really don't read this kind of legislation," Senator Ron Johnson told home-state reporters, asked why the Senate was approving a bill some senators had not read.

He said politicians needed to study it and get feedback from affected groups.

Democrats took to the Senate floor and social media to mock one page that included changes scrawled in barely legible handwriting

Later, they won enough Republican support to kill a provision by Senator Pat Toomey that would have bestowed a tax break on conservative Hillsdale College in Michigan.

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