United States Senator Pat Toomey Talks ‘Tremendous' Tax Bill in Philadelphia

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican who helped craft the Senate tax bill passed in the dead of night Saturday, called it a "tremendous legislative accomplishment" that will benefit "virtually all lower- and middle-income taxpayers."

"We fundamentally restructured the tax code so American workers and businesses can compete in a global economy," he said while speaking from his Old City Philadelphia offices Monday morning. 

Toomey touted the finer points of the bill, which would double the standard deduction for the first $24,000 of earned income, eliminate the individual mandate on Obamacare and lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. 

"Our [corporate tax code] is a glaring outlier that makes the U.S. less competitive," he said.

In Pittsburgh, demonstrators gathered ahead of Toomey's news conference in protest over the bill, which passed while most Americans slept.

The Senate bill inched forward strictly on party lines with just one Republican, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, voting against it. Meanwhile, Democrats decried the bill, saying none of them had time to read the proposed legislation before voting late Friday night into early Saturday morning.

"The Democrats can say what they want," Toomey shot back Monday.

The nearly $1.5 trillion tax bill gave President Donald Trump a major push towards fulfilling one of his biggest campaign promises. It offers the boldest rewrite of the nation's tax system since 1986.

But Toomey has come under fire for pushing an endowment tax change that would largely benefit just one institution - Hillsdale College, a private Michigan school that has a reputation for being unfriendly to LGBTQ students and refusing to follow Title IX rules aimed at protecting students against sexual assault.

The two-term Republican spoke at the college in 2008 and defended his amendment by saying that it would benefit any private college that does not accept federal funds for tuition aid, like Hillsdale.

When asked by NBC10 why he focused so much energy on the small provision, which failed to be included in the final Senate bill, Toomey said the amendment had been "wildly mischaracterized." 

Instead, colleges like Hillsdale are "saving American taxpayers" by not accepting federal funding. 

"It's all the more important the endowment ... be used to off-set the cost of tuition," he said. "My hope is that more colleges pursue this."

With the Senate bill passed and a House version pending, legislators must now reconcile the two before Trump can sign into law. 

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