Donald Trump has signed the Republicans’ massive $US1.5 trillion tax overhaul into law, cementing the biggest legislative victory of his first year in office.
At the same time the US President also approved a short-term spending bill that averts a possible government shutdown.
The two pieces of legislation represent Mr Trump’s most significant accomplishment with Congress since taking office in January, as well as a sign of what awaits when he returns from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida after the Christmas holiday.
The tax package, the largest such overhaul since the 1980s, slashes the corporate rate from 35 per cent to 21 per cent and temporarily reduces the tax burden for most individuals as well.
Mr Trump continued to pitch it as a win a for the middle class, insisting that even though polling indicates the tax cut is unpopular, “the numbers will speak” for themselves.
“I consider this very much a bill for the middle class and a bill for jobs, and jobs are produced through companies and corporations, and you see that happening,” he said.
“Corporations are literally going wild over this, I think even beyond my expectations, so far beyond my expectations.
“I don’t think we are going to have to do much selling.”
Democrats had opposed the bill as a giveaway to the wealthy that would add $US1.5 trillion ($1.94 trillion) to the $US20 trillion national debt during the next decade.
The spending bill extends federal funding through January 19, largely at current levels. It does nothing to resolve broader disputes over immigration, healthcare and military spending.
Republicans are also divided over whether to follow up their sweeping overhaul of the US tax code with a dramatic restructuring of federal benefit programs.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said he would like to revamp welfare and health programs, but Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has said he was not interested in cutting those programs without Democratic support.
Half of Americans believe plan will hurt their finances: polls
Some White House aides and Republican leaders are looking warily ahead at the mid-term election year, when typically a president’s party loses seats in Congress.
That is all the more true for presidents whose approval ratings dip below 50 per cent, and Mr Trump’s have never been that high.
Additionally, the new tax law that they see as the Republican’s top talking point is unpopular. Only about 1 in 3 voters have supported the legislation in recent days, according to several polls.
About half of Americans believe the plan will hurt their personal finances. And 2 in 3 voters say the wealthy will get the most benefits, according to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll released last week.
Starting next year, families making between $US50,000 and $US75,000 will get average tax cuts of $US890, according to an analysis by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center.
Families making between $US100,000 and $US200,000 would get average tax cuts of $US2,260, while families making more than $US1 million would get average tax cuts of nearly $US70,000, according to the analysis.
But if the cuts for individuals are allowed to expire, most Americans — those making less than $US75,000 — would see tax increases in 2027, according to congressional estimates.
Only high-income people would get a meaningful tax cut after 2025, when nearly all of the plan’s individual income tax provisions are due to expire.
Republicans argue that the middle class will see benefits from the business tax cuts, in the form of more jobs and higher wages.
Democrats said that was not likely to happen and the tax cuts were simply a boon to wealthy Americans like Mr Trump and left lower-income families in a lurch.