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Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) arrives to the U.S. Capitol Building

The tax bill’s Finance fracture

It’s a tale of the twisted politics around the bipartisan tax bill: Two notable Finance Committee Republicans are staking opposite positions on a bill that many lawmakers like but key members of the Senate GOP seem eager to kill.

Both Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) are thought of as dealmakers. Young is playing to type and looking for ways to get the package of business tax incentives and an expansion of the child tax credit into law. But Tillis, tossing aside his inclination to find common ground, has come out as one of the deal’s toughest critics.

After the tax bill consumed the conversation at GOP lunch this week, several senators said they believe the bulk of Republicans want changes before backing the bill. That includes Finance ranking member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho). But the big question is whether there would be at least 10 Republicans who would support the deal if it gets a vote.

The Tillis question: Hill aides, lawmakers and K Street wranglers alike have puzzled over Tillis’ motives for digging in against the tax bill, given he likes to cut deals and is usually in step with the business world.

Not this time. Tillis told us the “fake pay-for” — cutting off employee retention tax credit claims amid massive fraud — is a primary driver of his opposition. Notably, Tillis also argued that acting on these priorities ahead of the expiration of the Trump tax cuts next year is a negotiating misstep no matter who wins in November:

And there’s another dynamic at play: Hesitance to break with Crapo, a respected panel leader set to wield power in next year’s tax fight.

“I hope my colleagues will do what I’ll do, and that’s to support Crapo to say we should not allow them to get on the bill [absent changes],” Tillis said. “I don’t have any intention of undermining any discussions he’s trying to have.”

Young steps out: Meanwhile, Young put himself front and center this week in trying to get the tax bill over the finish line, even over his own colleagues’ objections.

Young’s backing won’t shock tax watchers. He’s one of the biggest Hill allies of full, upfront deductions for research and development costs, a piece of this bill that lots of businesses are clamoring for.

But Young’s push to lobby colleagues and leadership is a big move, particularly for a Finance member.

If Young can coax more GOP senators to go public with their support for the bill, it’s the sort that would make Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer more likely to hold a floor vote.

— Laura Weiss and Andrew Desiderio

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.