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Cathy McMorris Rodgers defends GOP tax reform bill during phone-in town hall

FILE – Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., right, speaks during a news conference with House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., left, House Ways and Means Chair Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., after the House voted to approve the Republican tax bill, Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Jacquelyn Martin / AP)

Eastern Washington residents peppered Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in a telephone town hall Tuesday with questions about the Republicans’ final tax bill.

Fielding inquiries over the phone, McMorris Rodgers ensured callers that the bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, would put more money in the pockets of the lower and middle class.

“This is truly a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver results,” said McMorris Rodgers, whose callers included farmers in Reardan and retirees in Clarkston.

The bill passed in the House earlier in the day but representatives are expected to vote on a slightly revised version today to comply with Senate rules. The Senate passed the bill early today. It significantly cuts corporate taxes.

The top tax rate for the wealthiest Americans will fall from 39.6 to 37 percent, while people in the bottom tax bracket still will pay 10 percent of their taxable income. These cuts will expire at the end of 2026.

After the bill passed the House on Tuesday, McMorris Rodgers joined Speaker Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy at a news conference.

“It is a hopeful day, it is a brighter day, for all Americans and their families,” McMorris Rodgers said.

President Donald Trump congratulated McMorris Rodgers and other Republicans on Twitter.

On Tuesday night, McMorris Rodgers turned her attention to the people of her 5th Congressional District.

According to McMorris Rodgers, a family of four bringing in $73,000 a year would see their taxes cut by 58 percent.

“Our goal is to make sure you keep those dollars for yourself,” she said, responding to a question about how the bill would affect those in the lower middle class.

When one man asked how the tax bill would affect his state pension, she said couldn’t provide that information that the time.

One woman asked if the new bill would lead to the elimination of Medicaid and Social Security, which McMorris-Rodgers staunchly denied, saying “it’s simply not true.”

Democrats argue that the Republican bill could force cuts to entitlement programs like Medicaid because it is expected to add significantly to the nation’s debt.

On the education front, the congresswoman said she worked hard to make sure that tax-exempt tuition waivers were maintained. An earlier version of the tax bill she voted for, however, would have eliminated the waivers.

For retirement savings, she said there would be “no significant changes.”

The majority of the questions McMorris Rodgers answered were from callers who appeared to be in favor of the bill.

One caller asked McMorris Rodgers about her stance on net neutrality.

“I support an open and free internet,” she said.

McMorris Rodgers supported the Federal Communications Commission’s decision this month to repeal net neutrality rules.