A group of moderate Democrats in the U.S. Senate are asking Republicans to work with them to rework the current verison of a tax reform bill. The group was led in a news conference Tuesday by Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Manchin said Democrats haven't yet been included in the crafting of the tax overhaul legislation but are willing to work with Republicans to pass a bill that doesn’t hurt the middle class. Many Democrats have attacked the current version as benefiting big corporations and the wealthy.
“People are looking for different gimmicks, if you will. Use us as the gimmick," said Manchin. "We can be the gimmick to get to 60 [votes] and do something meaningful for the country.”
Several moderates have been actively courted by President Donald Trump on the tax overhaul in recent weeks, invited to meetings and dinners at the White House and trips with Trump on his plane. Manchin confirmed some of those visits at Tuesday's news conference.
"I have worked on some ideas that I have shared with the White House and my Republican colleagues to no avail but I am still hopeful they will slow down, work in a bipartisan way and make this real tax reform that grows and helps our middle class in a responsible way,” he said.
Manchin, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota are from states easily carried by Trump in 2016. The three senators are up for re-election next year.
The Senate Budget Committee advanced the tax package on a 12 to 11 vote Tuesday afternoon.