Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) said he is a fan of the Republican tax bill that’s currently moving its way through the Senate, but he thinks his party leaders are exaggerating its importance to 2018 reelections for members of his party.
“To pretend this tax bill is world-changing is the way politicians in Washington, D.C. regularly pretend that every bill being debated is the thing that will usher in heaven,” he said to reporters after speaking to a group of 500 evangelical conservatives Saturday, the Associated Press reported.
Republicans passed the $1.5 trillion bill through the House last week, but it has been met with some tension in the Senate. Senate Republican leaders hope to tack on a provision to its version of the tax plan that would repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate, but some key Republicans, like Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), have already expressed concern over including that in the Senate bill.
Regardless of whether Republicans are able to drum up the votes they need to pass some type of major tax legislation – the party has failed to pass major legislation since President Donald Trump was elected, like not being able to repeal and replace Obamacare – Sasse wouldn’t equate tax reform to immediate reelection for Republicans. A bigger threat to the party are the efforts by former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who is challenging nearly all Republican senators seeking reelection in 2018, Sasse said.
Bannon “is trying to run to the front of the parade” of conservatives’ frustration with the Republican establishment, he said, according to AP. “The party I’m in is going through a split between two sides. … The really, really important debates of our time, the really big things we need to do, really can’t be reduced to a political spectrum of right versus left.”