December 13, 2017 / 2:07 PM / in 2 months

Schumer: delay tax overhaul vote until new Alabama senator seated

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday called on Republicans to delay a vote on pending tax overhaul legislation until the new U.S. senator from Alabama, a Democrat, is seated.

Schumer wants to slow down the legislation - which Republican leaders want to vote on before Christmas - so that Democrat Doug Jones, who won an upset victory in deeply conservative Alabama on Tuesday night, can cast a vote in the closely divided chamber.

Schumer said that under Alabama law, Jones could not be sworn in until at least the end of December. But Republicans are expected to reject the Democratic leader’s plea for a delay in voting on the tax bill.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) talks to the media following a weekly policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Speaking to reporters, Schumer cast Alabama’s senate election results as a repudiation of the policies being pursued by President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans in Congress, including the tax legislation.

“The Republican brand, even in deep red Alabama, is positively toxic,” he said. “The president keeps talking like he’s helping the middle class, but his policy after policy helps the wealthy and the powerful and hurts the middle class.”

Schumer said Jones’ defeat of Republican candidate Roy Moore was in part a referendum on the Republican tax bill, especially in the suburbs, where he said voters were worried about the bill’s proposed elimination of the state and local tax deduction.

Schumer said Republicans should abandon their effort and start over in cooperation with Democrats.

“Pausing on this tax bill and going back to the drawing board is the right thing for Republicans to do,” he said.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Susan Thomas

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