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Republicans celebrate as major tax reform package passes key vote

Gleeful Republicans forced the most sweeping rewrite of the US tax laws in more than three decades through the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

House Speaker Paul Ryan dismissed criticism of the widely unpopular package and insisted "results are what's going to make this popular".

The vote, largely along party lines, was 227-203 and capped a Republican sprint to deliver a major legislative accomplishment to President Donald Trump after a year of congressional stumbles.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate would vote on Tuesday evening, sending the legislation to Mr Trump for his signature.

The massive 1.5 trillion dollar (£1.2 trillion) package would touch every American taxpayer and every corner of the US economy, providing steep tax cuts for businesses and the wealthy, and more modest tax cuts for middle- and low-income families.

It would push the national debt ever higher.

Mr Trump tweeted: "Congratulations to Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, Kevin Brady, Steve Scalise, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and all great House Republicans who voted in favor of cutting your taxes!"

The standard deduction used by most families would be nearly doubled, to 24,000 dollars (£20,000) for a married couple.

"We're delivering a tax code that provides more jobs, fairer taxes and bigger pay cheques to Americans across the country," said Kevin Brady of Texas, Republican chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

"Our local job creators will see the lowest rates in modern history so they can invest more in their workers and in their future."

Democrats called the bill a giveaway to corporations and the wealthy, providing little if any tax help to the less-than-well-to-do and no likelihood that business owners will use their gains to hire more workers or raise wages.

Tax cuts for corporations would be permanent while the cuts for individuals would expire in 2026 in order to comply with Senate budget rules.

The tax cuts would take effect in January. Workers would start to see changes in the amount of taxes withheld from their pay in February.

The bill is unpopular with the public, and Democrats plan to campaign against it in next year's congressional elections.

"This bill will come back to haunt them, as Frankenstein did," said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

And in a last-minute glitch the Democrats said three provisions in the bill, including one that would allow parents to use college savings accounts for home-schooling expenses for young children, violate Senate budget rules.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the House would vote on the package again on Wednesday, after the Senate removes the problematic provisions and passes the bill.

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