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Cruz triumphs over Corker in $350B overnight tax fight

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It just might be Ted Cruz’s biggest victory as a senator: Helping stop in its tracks a plan late Thursday night to add $350 billion in tax increases to the Senate’s tax bill to placate fellow Republican Senator Bob Corker’s worries about the deficit.

Cruz and Corker have had showdowns in the past over Cruz’s strategies to fight the Affordable Care Act. But this time, Cruz had the votes on his side.

“Fifty-one senators want to cut taxes, one is trying to raise taxes,” Cruz said in an interview outside the Capitol late Thursday night after an impassioned confrontation on the Senate floor with Corker. “That’s not right.”

Cruz said he worked overnight to defeat the Corker push.

“It was extended conversations that went on into the late hours of the night and continued early in the morning,” Cruz said. “Last night there had been a plan to include $350 billion in tax increases. I and a number of other senators had strong objections to that proposal, and that proposal did not carry the day.”

Cruz also said he was happy that Senator Susan Collins won restoration of a property tax deduction, and that Senators Steve Daines and Ron Johnson had won a bigger tax cut for pass-through business owners, as well as other changes.

“We are seeing consensus as the conference comes together,” he said.

Corker, meanwhile, appeared subdued following the Cruz confrontation Thursday night and after other Republican senators lined up behind the bill without new provisions to shrink the deficit.

The Tennessee senator isn’t running for reelection and had said he wouldn’t vote for a plan that he felt would add to the deficit after accounting for economic growth.

And while Congress’s own budget scorekeeper found the bill would add about $1 trillion to the deficit over a decade even after accounting for growth effects, rank and file Republicans and party leadership rejected that score, saying they believe growth will be more robust than the analysts’ models and the bill will effectively pay for itself.

Cruz earlier had fought Corker’s effort to include a tax-increase trigger in the bill but was prepared to accept one if needed to pass the bill. Cruz, however, had argued that such a trigger should be two-sided; that is, if growth exceeded expectations, additional tax cuts should kick in. But the trigger proposals ran into a wall with the Senate parliamentarian, setting off Thursday night’s drama.

Bloomberg News