US Capitol Building, Washington DC, USA

It isn’t likely Congress will be voting on a Republican tax cut bill this week, at least not according to Montana Sen. Jon Tester’s travel plans.

Tester, a Democrat, plans to fly out of Washington, D.C., on Thursday night bound for Billings, were he’ll be working Friday, said Tester spokeswoman Marnee Banks.

The only items scheduled for the Senate floor this week are judicial confirmations. That means the shipping deadline on what President Donald Trump previously described as a Christmas gift for America will have passed before Republican leaders call for a vote.

The House and the Senate have both passed bills changing the federal tax system, with benefits unevenly distributed between income classes. A conference committee of Senate and House lawmakers will put forth a bill combining the House and Senate versions.

There’s been heartburn over the debt the tax plan is expected to create. The U.S. Treasury’s Office of Tax Policy reaffirmed earlier federal estimates that the tax cuts proposed would grow the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion. But OTP officials expect economic growth resulting from the tax cuts to eventually kick in, increasing government receipts by $300 billion.

Tester on Monday concurred with Gov. Steve Bullock that the tax cuts would cost Montana state tax revenue as breaks at the federal level played out on state income tax returns as well.

“I’m also very concerned that this proposal will add another $1.5 trillion to the national debt and will disproportionately benefit multinational corporations and the wealthiest among us,” Tester said in a letter to Bullock, a fellow Democrat. “I oppose both versions of the reckless proposal.”

Montana Department of Revenue Director Mike Kadas told The Gazette on Dec. 6 that the Senate tax cut bill would likely cost Montana $122 million a year in revenue. The income loss is a concern, given that Montana legislators were called back to Helena in November to deal with a $227 million revenue shortfall.

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