Trump Congress Taxes

President Donald Trump, left, walks with House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, as they leave a meeting with House Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington. Trump is at the Capitol for a pep rally with House Republicans, shortly before the chamber is expected to approve the tax bill over solid Democratic opposition. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Jacquelyn Martin

The House of Representatives passed a major tax reform bill Thursday with the support of central New York's members of Congress. 

The final vote was 227 to 205. Democrats were joined by 13 Republicans, including five from New York, in opposition to the measure. 

U.S. Reps. John Katko and Claudia Tenney supported the bill. Katko, R-Camillus, revealed his position during an interview with The Citizen Wednesday. 

In a statement after the vote, Katko called the legislation "a good start."

"I've carefully reviewed this bill and consulted with local families, small business owners and individuals throughout our community," he said. "Their message was clear: our tax code is too complex and it places an unfair burden on working families. Congress must act to change the status quo." 

The major provisions in the bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, include slashing the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent and reducing the number income tax brackets. 

The standard deduction will increase to $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for families. But most other deductions and credits will be eliminated. 

Before the vote, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi slammed the GOP bill. She urged Republicans to work with Democrats on a bipartisan solution. 

"What are you afraid of?" Pelosi, D-California, asked.

But Republicans are intent on advancing the sweeping tax overhaul. House Speaker Paul Ryan touted the legislation's economic benefits. 

Lower taxes on businesses, he argued, will spur job growth and raise wages. 

"You pass this bill, you grow this economy," Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said. 

A key change which helped secure the support of some Republicans, including Katko, was restoring part of the state and local tax deduction. In an initial version of the bill, state and local tax deductibility was eliminated. 

The deduction allows individuals, especially those who live in high-tax states, to deduct their state and local income, property and sales taxes. 

The New York Republican delegation expressed concern about the potential elimination of the deduction. After discussions with House GOP leaders, a compromise was reached. The deduction would remain for up to $10,000 of state and local property taxes, but it would be eliminated for income and sales taxes. 

For some GOP members, the change wasn't enough. But Katko believes the compromise would benefit his constituents. 

"This is not perfect. I'd love to have (state and local tax deductibility) in 100 percent," he said Wednesday. "But in the end, when you do the math for my district, it really is a good deal." 

House leaders now await the Senate's action on its own version of tax reform legislation. If the Senate passes its measure, a conference committee will be formed to negotiate a final agreement. 

Katko hopes to be named to the conference committee if the Senate approves its tax plan.

"This process is far from over," he said. "As the Senate develops and votes on its own bill and both houses work to send a final measure to the president's desk, I will continue to put central New York's interests first." 

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