As G.O.P. Celebrates House Vote, New York and New Jersey Lawmakers Say No

ALBANY — Amid the cheers and gavel-pounding among Republicans on Tuesday at the passage of the tax bill in the House, there was a Northeastern accent to the party’s dissenters, with nine lawmakers from New York and New Jersey bucking the consensus to vote no.

And in almost every case, the reason for that cross-Hudson opposition came down to the assertion that their two states were basically being used to pay for tax cuts in the other 48.

“It’s unfair and it’s wrong,” said Peter T. King, the veteran Republican congressman from Long Island, one of five New Yorkers to give the bill a thumbs-down. “You can’t be financing a benefit for the rest of country at the expense of Long Island and New York.”

That sentiment was echoed by Mr. King’s fellow Republican and Long Islander, Representative Lee Zeldin, who called the bill “a geographic redistribution of wealth” from so-called donor states like New York, which sends tens of billions of dollars more to Washington than it receives. And while he praised the hefty reduction in corporate taxes, he suggested that it had come “on the backs” of “hard-working, middle-income taxpayers.”

“That was totally avoidable,” Mr. Zeldin said.

All told, 12 Republicans broke with their party line to vote no, including Representatives Dana Rohrabacher and Darrell Issa, both of California, and Walter Jones of North Carolina, who bemoaned the bill’s potential to add “trillions of dollars” to the national debt. “We’re going the wrong way fast,” he said in a statement.

But the opposition was by far the most concentrated in New Jersey and New York, two high-tax, largely Democratic states. And the chief source of consternation for Mr. King and others were new provisions to cap the combined deduction for state and local income tax and property taxes at $10,000. That limit, they warn, could decrease property values, stymie the real estate market and cause tax migration to less tax-heavy states.

“I don’t think there should be winner states and loser states,” said Representative Leonard Lance, Republican of New Jersey, who said that the combined $10,000 limit was simply too low for his state’s often expensive — and high-taxed — communities. “That’s not strong enough.”

Several of those who voted against the bill were probably also taking the current electoral calculus into consideration. Mr. Issa and Mr. Rohrabacher, for instance, are considered vulnerable incumbents heading into 2018, when Democrats feel an anti-Trump backlash could return the House to their control. In New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has repeatedly railed against the effect of the bill and promised to campaign against its supporters, calling them “Benedict Arnolds” and hypocrites, and predicting political doom if they vote yes. “I think there’s going to be a real political comeuppance,” Mr. Cuomo said Monday.

That sort of messaging was met by shrugs by many Republicans in New York. It also did not seem likely that the dozen defectors would face retaliation from inside the Republican conference. A few hours before the House vote, the chamber’s chief tax writer, Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, showed no ill will toward the dissenters.

In fact, Mr. Brady said lawmakers from states where the deduction for state and local taxes is a significant issue had achieved “good wins” through their negotiations. Earlier proposals had included a complete elimination of the deduction for state and local income taxes, with a $10,000 cap on only property taxes.

“They’ve been terrific,” Mr. Brady said. “Whether they vote for it or not, they’ve done a great job staying at the table.”

Representative John Faso, a Republican from the Hudson Valley who voted no, agreed that the bill that passed Tuesday was better than earlier versions, but still worried that it would “drive a lot of high-earners out of New York” and have “disproportionate impact on state and local finances.”

But he blamed Democrats, in his state and elsewhere, for not doing more to change the bill. “Democrats from high-tax states, had their votes been truly in play, would have been able to influence the results,” he said in an interview.

No Democrat voted for the bill, and Representative Joe Crowley of Queens, who serves as the chairman of the Democratic Caucus, flatly rejected any suggestion that his party — boxed out of negotiations by the reconciliation process — owned any of its possible negative consequences, either in New York, New Jersey or nationwide. Those consequences would be profound, with a quarter of New Yorkers experiencing a tax increase, he estimated.

And while he appreciated the no votes of the five New York Republicans, he said they still shouldered responsibility for the bill. “They voted for the leadership that allowed this vote to come to the floor in the first place,” Mr. Crowley said, adding, “That speaks volumes.”

Do you like this post?

Be the first to comment