TAX REFORM: GOP nixes Dem proposals for students, others

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WASHINGTON (AP) — 2:35 p.m.

House Republicans have rejected Democratic proposals to restore tax benefits for student borrowers, people with significant medical expenses, homeowners and teachers to the GOP tax overhaul bill.

The tax-writing Ways and Means Committee voted along party lines on Wednesday against a battery of amendments.

The proposed elimination of the deduction for medical expenses not covered by insurance is especially controversial. The deduction has helped offset costs including nursing home care, laser eye surgery and travel for a second opinion on a rare cancer.

The GOP-led panel hopes to complete the tax overhaul legislation no later than Thursday.

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12:13 p.m.

A new government analysis of the House GOP tax bill says its true costs to the nation's debt are at least $259 billion greater over the coming decade.

That's because of the interest costs the government has to absorb to borrow more money to keep the government running. That puts the debt cost of the measure at $1.7 trillion over 10 years.

The Congressional Budget Office study actually understates the measure's true cost since it's based on last week's version of the bill. An amendment added by Ways and Means Committee Republicans on Monday added $161 billion to the cost of the bill, mostly by watering down an international tax provision.

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11:05 a.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says the GOP drubbing in Tuesday night's off-year elections "just puts more pressure on making sure we follow through" on the party's drive to overhaul the tax code.

The Wisconsin Republican, speaking at an event held by the Washington Examiner, added that the GOP tax bill would "bear fruit politically, but most importantly it's going to help people."

He spoke hours after Republicans lost gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey by large margins in off-year elections that appear to be a bad omen for GOP chances in next year's midterms.

The tax rewrite effort has assumed even greater significance in the wake of the GOP failure to repeal the Obama health care law.