WASHINGTON (AP) — 3:40 p.m.
The Senate is barreling ahead on tax overhaul.
The Senate's narrow GOP majority prevailed in a 51-47 vote on Wednesday to begin talks with House lawmakers on reconciling the two bills.
The Senate bill narrowly passed in the wee hours Saturday. The House bill, also calling for tax cuts totaling about $1.5 trillion over the next decade, passed in mid-November.
Both measures would bring the biggest overhaul of the U.S. tax system in three decades. Both offer steep tax cuts for businesses and more modest tax breaks for families and individuals. They double the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for couples.
Among the major differences: For personal income taxes, the House bill shrinks the current seven brackets to four, while the Senate version keeps seven.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he favors expanding a deduction for state and local taxes to enable people to deduct local income taxes as well as property taxes.
It's a concession to Republicans from high-tax states.
Both the House and Senate tax bills initially repealed the entire deduction for state and local taxes. Both bills have since been amended to allow homeowners to deduct up to $10,000 in property taxes.
The provision was a compromise among Republicans from high-tax states such as New York and New Jersey.
California Republicans are pushing for an amendment to let taxpayers deduct local income taxes, too.
On Wednesday's Hugh Hewitt radio show, McConnell said, "That sounds like a kind of reasonable idea."
Some GOP lawmakers are offering blunt assessments about parts of their massive tax packages, even as the legislation speeds toward approval in the Republican-controlled Congress.
Republican congressman Mark Sanford of South Carolina says the tax packages passed by the House and Senate focus more on helping big corporations than on cutting taxes for the middle-class.
Republican congressman Mark Meadows of North Carolina complains that some taxpayers will eventually see tax increases.
Both the House and Senate have passed massive tax bills that would provide steep tax cuts for businesses and more modest tax breaks for families and individuals.
Despite complaints from some Republicans, GOP leaders see no deal-breakers to reconciling the House and Senate bills and passing a unified package before Christmas.