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Tax bill support divided along party lines in North Dakota, Minnesota

The U.S. Capitol in Washington reflects on wet concrete.

WASHINGTON — Politicians from North Dakota and Minnesota split their support along party lines for a broad overhaul of the American tax system, with Republicans cheering what they see as a big economic booster. But Democrats questioned its estimated $1.5 trillion bottom line as well as benefits to corporations and America's wealthiest.

"I've been almost begging Republicans to work with me on a bipartisan bill that could serve North Dakota," Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said in a prepared statement. "I held meetings in North Dakota on tax reform, and met with top White House officials, including the president, on the issue. Unfortunately, I never got a seat at the table, nor did many others. As a result, it produced a partisan tax bill that hurts North Dakota and is full of broken promises to the American people."

Heitkamp was joined in opposition by every Democrat in the Senate, including Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, both of Minnesota. Klobuchar echoed Heitkamp's frustration with the bill's drafting process on Twitter, calling for "bipartisan fixes" and criticizing the midnight voting process that led to its passage.

Republicans were far more bullish on the bill. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., lauded the bill as an important set of tax cuts that "lowers rates across the board."

"This tax relief plan, coupled with regulatory relief, will unleash economic growth to grow wages and income, as well as government revenues," he said in a statement. "This tax relief bill is good for America and good for North Dakota."

Most of the criticism of the bill has centered on who will benefit most. The package will make corporate tax cuts that are permanent, though will not do so for individuals, and eliminated a key provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires people to purchase health insurance. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., argued that some earners will see tax increases if they "face high medical expenses, pay high state and local taxes, or have families with many children."

"This bill was a missed opportunity to promote real economic growth, simplify our tax code and help the middle class," he said in a statement.

Peterson voted yesterday alongside Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., in a House vote that had to be redone after the discovery that some provisions in the bill violate Senate rules. The package passed on a re-vote today, and will head to President Donald Trump's desk for a signature.

"Today's a truly historic moment for Congress, for our country, and for the conservative values of small government that so many of us stand on," Cramer said in a statement. "Putting money back into local economies where it belongs is the best Christmas gift Washington can give, and I was glad to support Congressional Republicans and President Trump in bringing tax cuts to the people of North Dakota."

Sam Easter

Sam Easter is a City Government reporter for the Grand Forks Herald. You can reach him with story tips, comments and ideas at 701-330-3441.

(701) 780-1108
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