WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is making a public show of trying to win over Democratic votes for the Republican tax cut package, even as GOP officials have written that off as an unlikely outcome.
The GOP president is returning to Missouri on Wednesday as he tries to push the Republican tax plan across the finish line. He is also expected to again call on the state’s Democratic senator, Claire McCaskill, to embrace the package. McCaskill, a top Republican target in the 2018 midterm elections, voted against the plan in a Senate Finance Committee vote this month.
Trump will again emphasize the plan’s benefits for Main Street as he tries to sell the plan in the St. Louis suburbs. While the White House says the plan will be a boon to middle-income families by helping small-business owners and workers, sparking economic growth and simplifying the tax code, critics say both the House and Senate versions will disproportionately help the wealthy and corporations.
The visit marks Trump’s second to the state to sell his plan. During his trip to Springfield in August, Trump pledged the plan would “bring back Main Street” as he tried to make a populist pitch.
The trip comes a day after the Senate Finance Committee advanced a sweeping tax package to the full Senate, handing Republican leaders a victory as they try to pass the nation’s first tax overhaul in 31 years. But the bill still faces hurdles in the Senate, where Republicans have just two votes to spare in their 52-48 edge over Democrats.
Senior administration officials briefing reporters ahead of the trip said Trump is expected to once again target McCaskill, who is among 10 Senate Democrats up for re-election in 2018 in states won by Trump and is considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents.
She was among 45 Senate Democrats who in August sent a letter to Republican leaders and Trump saying they won’t support any GOP effort to overhaul the tax system that delivers cuts to the top 1 percent or adds to the government’s $20 trillion debt.
The senior officials spoke on condition of anonymity in order to preview the president’s remarks.
Trump’s speech Wednesday will be in front of an audience of about 1,000 people in St. Charles.
“Our focus is on helping the folks who work in the mail room, in the machine shops of America, the plumbers and the police officers, the store clerks and secretaries. All of the people who give their best each and every day to take care of their families and the people that they love,” according to an excerpt from Trump’s planned speech. “It is not enough for the middle class to keep getting by — we want them to start getting ahead.”
Trump in August said that if McCaskill didn’t support his plan, voters should push her out of office.
“We must lower our taxes, and your senator, Claire McCaskill, she must do this for you. And if she doesn’t do it for you, you have got to vote her out of office,” Trump said then.
Among the officials expected to greet Trump at the airport: Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley, who is running for McCaskill’s seat.