The Note: Republicans, Trump's 'Christmas gift' tax plan could affect 2018 elections

Congress will vote on the Republican tax bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

ByRick Klein and MaryAlice Parks
December 19, 2017, 6:05 AM

— -- The TAKE with Rick Klein

On this, both parties can agree: The tax bill is set to remake the political landscape ahead of 2018.

In what direction, and with what consequences, remains an item of fierce contention as the House and Senate move to final votes.

A legislative victory – and the bill does seem certain to pass - will be celebrated by the Republican donor base. It will surely be championed by President Donald Trump with heretofore unexplored superlatives.

But in another version of the future, an unpopular and imbalanced legislative behemoth emerges, defined by a series of favors for the well-connected. In that world, a swamp-inspired monster may neither help the economy nor the average taxpayer enough to change perceptions of the bill.

Trump likes going big, and this bill is that. It’s fair to assess that the votes that are about to be held will be remembered in big ways, and for a long time.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

In the last few weeks, advocates have come from far and wide to Capitol Hill, not only to speak out against the tax bill, which has taken center stage, but to lobby for long-term funding for government programs as well.

Two executives from Montana Trout Unlimited, for example, worked senators last week, urging them to fully fund Environmental Protection Agency programs they rely on to preserve watersheds and fisheries.

It is programs like these -- from conservation to parks to children’s health care and education -- that hang in the balance as the clock ticks towards a possible government shutdown looming in just four days.

Once again, Congress has brought it down to the wire.

While lawmakers, especially Republicans, sound confident they will be home for the holidays with a fully funded federal government, the now routine brinkmanship has clearly taken a toll on agencies and local governments that rely on federal-funding to do their work and plan for the new year.

It is noteworthy, too, that in the final days of spending negotiations Republicans from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to President Trump are advocating for an increase in at least one bucket of government spending: military and defense.

The TIP with John Parkinson

Not to be outdone by House Speaker Paul Ryan, Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Michigan, picks up where her husband left off – continuing a Dingell holiday tradition with the release of the 2017 edition of the Dingell jingle, set to the tune of “Winter Wonderland.

  • House phones ring
  • Are you listening
  • Folks are mad
  • But Ryan’s insisting
  • Another tax fight!
  • No funding bill in sight
  • Walking in a winter blunderland
  • Gone away is Obama
  • Here to stay is constant drama
  • We try to stay strong
  • As Trump tweets along
  • Walking in a winter blunderland

Read the rest of the jingle here:


  • Congress will vote on the latest Republican tax bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
  • President Donald Trump meets with Secretary of Defense James Mattis in the Oval Office at 11:30 a.m. ET.
  • There will be a press briefing with press secretary Sarah Sanders in the White House Briefing Room at 2:00 p.m. ET.
  • Vote counting process begins for the Alabama Senate special election. The final vote count won't be certified until sometime between December 26 and January 3rd according to the Alabama Secretary of State's office.
  • Vice President Mike Pence announced Monday he is postponing his trip to Israel and Egypt until January, with his office citing the GOP tax package pending in Congress as the reason for the delay.
  • The Environmental and Energy Study Institute holds a briefing focusing on the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement at 1:00 p.m. ET.

    “I had hoped my two decades of public service might carry more weight than my two worst minutes on television." --Matthew Petersen, President Trump’s choice for U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, in a letter withdrawing his nomination.


  • Republicans expected to pass tax measure. Republicans are on the brink of sending President Trump their first bona fide legislative accomplishment, as both chambers of Congress prepare to pass the tax plan on Tuesday. (John Parkinson)
  • Trump's national security strategy emphasizes competition and prosperity at home. President Trump unveiled his new national security strategy Monday, emphasizing a need for strategic competitiveness among rival powers, and building strength through prosperity domestically, in keeping with his "America First" policy. (Sarah Kolinovsky)
  • Trump judicial nominee who struggled to answer basic legal questions withdraws. Petersen’s withdrawal comes after a video went viral of him fumbling through a line of questioning on points of basic legal procedure by Republican Sen. John Kennedy during a hearing on Wednesday. (Jordyn Phelps)
  • Sarah Palin’s son Track arrested on domestic violence charges in Alaska. Track Palin, the oldest son of former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, was arraigned Sunday in Alaska on domestic violence charges in an incident involving his parents, online court records show. (John Verhovek)
  • Mother of soldier killed in Niger: Pentagon told multiple stories about son’s death. The mother of a U.S. soldier who died during an ambush in Niger accused the Pentagon on Monday of lying to her family about how her son was killed. (Luis Martinez and Elizabeth Mclaughlin)
  • At least 3 dead after Amtrak train derails in Washington state. At least three people died and dozens were injured after an Amtrak train on the inaugural run of a new route derailed in Washington state Monday morning, with part of the train careening off an overpass onto a heavily-trafficked highway below, a local official said. (Emily Shapiro, Whitney Lloyd and Jeff Cook)
  • Trump touts infrastructure after derailment but proposed budget would cut Amtrak funding. Hours after the Amtrak train derailment that killed at least three people and injured around a hundred near Tacoma, Washington, Monday, President Trump argued that the accident highlights the need for infrastructure spending. (Erin Dooley)
  • The Washington Post analyzes the likelihood of Democrats retaking Congress in the new year:
  • The New York Times reports on Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s pitch to take over the top Democratic spot on the House Judiciary Committee in hopes to impeach President Donald Trump.
  • The Washington Post reports that Trump talked about rescinding Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch’s nomination.
  • The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

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