Florida Senator Marco Rubio threw Republicans a curveball on Thursday after threatening to withdraw his support for the GOP tax plan. After months of negotiations, the Republican lawmaker demanded that a larger percentage of a child tax credit be refundable against payroll taxes to benefit lower income families.
“I can’t in good conscience support it unless we are able to increase the refundable portion of it,” Rubio told reporters Thursday afternoon before echoing the statements on Twitter. “There’s a way to do it, and we’ll be very reasonable.”
Though Rubio voted for an earlier version of the tax bill that narrowly passed through the Senate, his opposition could imperil reform that requires near full Republican support. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) has previously expressed Rubio’s concerns towards the child tax credit while Senator Bob Corker (R-Tnn.) voted against the Senate version of the tax plan.
Rubio’s remarks sparked a frenzied effort to amend the tax bill to secure the senator’s support. Rep. Kristi L. Noem (R-S.D.), one of the Republicans responsible for presenting a finalized bill, claimed the tax credit had been expanded and that the bill was “in a good spot… to earn his support.” But a Rubio spokeswoman told the Washington Post that the senator was still reviewing the revisions.
“We have not seen bill text, and until we see if the [amount of the expanded credit] is significantly higher, then our position remains the same,” she wrote the Post in an email.
Rubio tweeted at 2:14 p.m. that the revisions were “a solid step toward broader reforms which are both Pro-Growth and Pro-Worker,” thanking Sens. Mike Lee and Tim Scott and Ivanka Trump for their help in securing the changes. By leveraging political urgency, Rubio claimed a policy victory favoring lower income families as many conservatives are criticized for unfairly benefiting the wealthy. With almost all players aligned, the House and Senate will vote on the final bill next week.