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Sen. Corker Denies 'Kickback' Provision Added to Tax Bill to Change His Vote

Image: Sen. Corker Denies 'Kickback' Provision Added to Tax Bill to Change His Vote
Sen. Bob Corker (AP)

By    |   Thursday, 21 Dec 2017 11:39 AM

Sen. Bob Corker Thursday denied that there was ever a "Corker kickback" provision included to earn his vote for the landmark tax reform bill lawmakers passed this week, debunking the talk of the provision as "fake news," a phrase he said he's never used in the past.

"I've never ever in my life used the word 'fake news' until today," Corker told the "Fox & Friends" program. "I actually understand what it is the president has been dealing with."

The initial Senate bill did not include a 20 percent deduction for "pass-through entities," including business structures such as LLCs, LPS and S-Corporations that pay income to partners, who then pay individual tax rates on the money they get, reported the International Business Times.

The bill passed included a 20 percent deduction for the pass-through entities, a provision added during the reconciliation process, and the IBT noted that it would allow a tax break for owners of income-producing real estate holdings, such as Corker, the former owner of two of the largest real estate companies in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

"This is a travesty," Corker told Fox News, of the report. "The fact is this was a provision that came from the House of Representatives. I've had zero impact on a word of the tax file. My focus was on deficits.

"The reporter that wrote about this knew I was unaware of the vision. I sat down on Thursday and walked through the House and Senate bill as it was being published, if you will. And this was not a provision that was even brought up."

He further claimed that the IBT reporter knew that he was not aware of the clause, but turned it around to make him look bad.

On another program, MSNBC's "Morning Joe," the Tennessee Republican said he'd had "absolutely nothing to do with any clause whatsoever in this bill," and the talk of there being a provision included in bill to attract his vote has been "totally debunked," and he didn't know

The senator still owns a large amount of commercial real estate, earning to $7 million from it last year alone, the IBT reported.

"I didn't even know the provision was in the bill," Corker told MSNBC. "I went through a thorough tick tock on Thursday with Republican leadership to talk about the differences between the House and Senate bill."

"I get a call from a reporter on Saturday night who makes me aware of this provision, knows I know nothing about it and then proceeds to act as if this had something to do with my vote," said Corker.

"I got to tell you, I've had a healthy respect for the media. I have not liked the tearing down of the media. I have people I work with every day.

“I have to tell you, I have a little bit of empathy now for what the White house deals with. I'm sorry, this has been totally, totally torn down as a fact and yet people that I respect are still repeating it. It's part of being here."

Corker continued that he did a lot of "due diligence" to find out how the provision slipped in, although it had been part of the House bill since Nov. 1, as House Ways and Means Committee leader Rep. Kevin Brady and others had been pushing for it.

"When they merged the bills together as related to pass-throughs, this came in," Corker said. "It was not air dropped. This is part of the House language all the time."

He admitted that he thinks pass-throughs are being dealt with "in a very generous way," but also that adjustments will be made.

Corker got some high-placed backup on his statements Thursday, when Ivanka Trump told Fox News that he has "real integrity," and answered "absolutely not" when asked if there was a provision to benefit the Tennessee Republican, with whom her father has had differences.

"I spent a lot of time with Senator Corker as well, and he had real integrity around this process, I will say that for sure," the first daughter and senior adviser to her father told "Fox & Friends."

She admitted Corker had his concerns, but he felt they were "adequately address," and "he really believes that tax relief coupled with the administration deregulatory actions will create the growth that will start to erode and ultimately eliminate the national debt that has been incurred over the last several decades."

Corker's initial holdout on the bill concerned deficit matters, and he told MSNBC that he still had hope that something could be done in a bipartisan way to work that out.

"On a $43 trillion base over the next ten years, based on the dynamic scores and current policy, there is a great possibility of a $500 billion gap, he said. "I spent the week I made the decision on the phone with people all across our state, chambers of commerce, economic development recruiters, people you have on your program, luminaries across the country involved in investment on both sides of the aisle."

Those concerns remain, even with projections that the deficit can be overcome said Corker.

"Obviously there are projections that say this can be overcome," he said. "I will say we have a lot of momentum right now as it relates to economic growth. If we can convince the president that maybe some of the trade policies he's been looking at are not in our country's best interest, we can end up with a better immigration balance in our country."

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Sen. Bob Corker Thursday denied that there was ever a "Corker kickback" provision included to earn his vote for the landmark tax reform bill lawmakers passed this week, debunking the talk of the provision as "fake news,"...
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Thursday, 21 Dec 2017 11:39 AM
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