Home News Local News Zeldin bucks party, votes ‘no’ on House tax reform bill

Zeldin bucks party, votes ‘no’ on House tax reform bill

Rep. Lee Zeldin discussed tax reform and other topics at a mobile office hours session he held in Riverhead Dec. 18. Photo: Katie Blasl

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) voted with 11 other Republicans and 191 Democrats against the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” which passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 227-203. 

But the House will have to vote on the bill again tomorrow because of a glitch in the upper chamber, where the Senate parliamentarian ruled that three provisions in the Senate bill violated Senate rules for budget reconciliation measures. Since the House and Senate must pass identical bills coming out of the bicameral conference committee, the House must take up the measure again tomorrow, with tweaks. It is expected to pass.

The bill is not the tax relief middle class wage earners were promised, Zeldin said in a statement this afternoon. Instead it is “a geographic redistribution of wealth” that takes extra money from a place like New York to pay for deeper tax cuts elsewhere. 

The First District congressman objected to the limitation of the state and local tax deduction, which the bill caps at $10,000. He supports maintaining the deduction, but said “a phase down of SALT over a period of time to a level that fully protects middle income itemizers” would have been better than the $10,000 cap. 

“With that being said, all New Yorkers must confront the reality that our deduction is so high because our state and local taxes are so high,” Zeldin said in a statement. “ALL levels of government must work on tax relief moving forward.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan hailed the bill’s passage. “For the millions of Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck, for all those businesses struggling to compete in this global economy, help is on the way. This is a good day for America,” Ryan said in a tweet.”

Under the bill approved today by the House, the corporate tax rate would be cut to 21 percent, from 35 percent. Individuals would also see tax rate cuts and the doubling of the standard deduction. While the corporate tax cuts would be permanent, the individual tax rate cuts would expire after 2025. 

Republicans say the corporate tax cuts will increase economic growth, create jobs and raise wages. Democrats argue that “trickle down” tax policy does not work that way. They say the most sweeping tax code overhaul since 1986 is aimed at cutting taxes and increasing wealth for corporations and the wealthiest Americans. 

The measure will increase the federal deficit by as much as $1.4 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Final passage in both houses of Congress is expected to come tomorrow. The president is expected to sign the bill as soon as it arrives on his desk. 

Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.