In a move he telegraphed for weeks, retiring junior Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee announced Friday afternoon he will not vote for the tax reform package heading to the floor of the Senate, citing concerns for the government’s mounting deficits and debt.
“This is yet another tough vote. I am disappointed. I wanted to get to yes,” Mr. Corker said in a statement, released on Twitter.
“But at the end of the day, I am not able to cast aside my fiscal concerns and vote for legislation that I believe, based on the information I currently have, could deepen the debt burden on future generations,” he said.
My statement on the tax reform legislation: pic.twitter.com/LdTQRezdlO
— Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) December 1, 2017
Senator Corker pushed hard for the bill to include a “trigger” that would undo reforms, should the American economy not meet certain benchmarks after the plan was implemented. Republican leaders rejected the idea, instead adopting other Senators’ suggestions on SALT (state and local taxes) and small business tax provisions – along with their votes.
“While I support a number of the provisions included in this legislation and continue to believe it would have been fairly easy to alter the bill in a way that would have been more fiscally sound without harming the pro-growth policies, unfortunately, it is clear that the caucus is in a different place,” he said.
The statement comes as he said he told President Trump in a phone call that he would take a “close look” at the product House and Senate negotiators come up with in a conference committee before making a decision on the final legislation.
Republican leaders can afford two defections from their 52-member conference to pass the legislation under fast-track rules, assuming no Democrats support it.
At the end of the day, Majority Leader McConnell believes they do not need the outgoing Senator’s vote, making Corker one of perhaps two Republicans to join with Democrats in their opposition of the once-in-a-generation tax reform measure.