WASHINGTON ― Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is calling on Republicans to delay a vote on their tax reform legislation until after newly elected Alabama Sen. Doug Jones is officially seated.
“It would be wrong for Senate Republicans to jam through this tax bill without giving the duly elected senator from Alabama a chance to cast his vote,” Schumer said Wednesday at a press conference.
Jones, a Democrat, accomplished a stunning victory in Tuesday night’s special election in Alabama by defeating Roy Moore, who had been accused of sexual misconduct by several women.
With Jones in the Senate, Republicans will only have a 51-member majority.
Republican lawmakers in the House and the Senate are hashing out the differences between their two tax bills behind closed doors this week, and final vote is expected sometime next week.
“Our hope is that [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell will do the right thing,” Schumer said.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) also called on McConnell (R-Ky.) to seat Jones “without any delay.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, dismissed a delay on the tax vote as “laughable.”
Schumer cited the special Senate election in Massachusetts in 2010 as a precedent for delaying the vote on the GOP tax bill until Jones is seated. In that case, Republican Scott Brown was sworn in 16 days after the election, and no major votes occurred during that period.
After Brown won, a number of Republicans senators urged Democrats to postpone their vote on the Affordable Care Act.
“The American people have spoken,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said at the time. “The people of Massachusetts have spoken for the rest of America: Stop this process, sit down in open and transparent negotiations, and let’s begin from the beginning.”
That race was widely seen as a referendum on health care, as Massachusetts was the first state to experiment with a marketplace system to provide affordable coverage to consumers with a system similar to Obamacare.
The subject of taxes, however, hardly came up in the Alabama Senate race.
In his press conference, Schumer conceded that the controversy over Moore’s accusers played a role in Jones’ victory, but he insisted that it “wasn’t the whole story” because of rare Democratic gains in suburban areas of Alabama.
“This was a referendum,” he said. “Middle-class people said, ‘We want change.’ If that’s happening in Alabama, that’s happening everywhere in America.”