Merkley amendment nixes tax break for private MI college in GOP bill

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Democrats blasted the provision, saying it would aid only only school, Hillsdale College in MI, a politically connected institution with close ties to well-known conservatives, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. "I actually think it's a wonderful institution". Toomey said a school that declines federal funds saves taxpayers "a tremendous amount of money". Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., proposed an amendment to strip it from the tax bill, and it prevailed by a 52-48 vote, according to the Associated Press.

Hillsdale College is a conservative liberal arts college based in central MI that enrolls about 1,400 and focuses its curriculum around "western philosophical and theological inheritance".

The Democratic aide noted several officials in the Trump administration have ties to those who graduated from the liberal arts college, including DeVos' brother, Erik Prince. Chocola succeed Toomey as president of the Club for Growth, a conservative organization focused on cutting taxes.

Pennsylvania's two USA senators were on opposite sides of the final vote early Saturday as Republicans narrowly passed a bill to overhaul the federal tax code after hours of debate and last-minute changes.

In a sustained back-and-forth, Toomey argued that any university could benefit from the amendment if it refused federal aid. "That doesn't strike me as right", said Sen. "There are so many deserving schools in OR and Pennsylvania and elsewhere who don't get this special treatment".

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The final vote on the tax bill came shortly before 2 a.m. Saturday, in which all but one Republican - Sen.

Democrats on Friday slammed a provision in the latest version of the GOP tax bill that they said appeared to only benefit a single, conservative college. "That, unfortunately, is a metaphor for the bill, and how high the stench is rising in this chamber as we debate the bill tonight".

However, following criticism from the left, Republicans then edited the language to make the endowment requirement $500,000 per student, instead of the initial $250,000.

Jeb Bush praised Senate Republicans on Saturday for passing the sweeping tax-reform bill, while Hillary Clinton called on Democrats to "get to work" to defeat the GOP legislators who backed the $1.5 trillion package in next year's elections.

Hillsdale only has an endowment of just over $360,000 per student, based on most recent enrollment and endowment reports.