By Cailyn Carr 12/15/17

Republican lawmakers are getting closer to agreeing on a long-disputed tax bill. Tuesday’s negotiations were focused on aligning the bills in the House and Senate which differ greatly. The bills must be reconciled in order to gain enough party support in Congress.

One of the proposals in the Republican tax bill is to lower the current 35% corporate tax rate to 21%, up 1% from the bill that has already passed the House and Senate. The top individual tax rate would also change. Lawmakers are considering proposing a drop from the current 39.6% to 37%. Another change in the tax bill is the ability to deduct the interest on mortgage debt. The bill proposes that the current cap of $1 million for deduction be lowered to $750,000 for newly purchased homes.

The final bill can add no more than $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit over a decade, according to Senate rules. This restriction has Republican lawmakers scrambling to figure out how to pay for the decrease in the top individual tax rate which will result in less revenue for the Treasury Department.

Democrats have criticized the bill for benefiting the wealthy and hurting the middle class. Some have said that the proposal creates new loopholes that corporations and the rich could use to pay fewer taxes. President Trump disputed this and said that the tax plan will actually benefit the middle class.

Republican Senator Roy Moore’s defeat to Democrat Doug Jones on Tuesday fueled the speed with which Republicans are moving forward on this bill. Moore’s loss set the narrow Republican majority in the Senate to 51 to 49. Republican leaders hope to release a consensus bill between the House and Senate on Friday and hold a vote on it next week.