Although the House of Representatives voted for the bill on December 19 2017, "several provisions of the bill violated the Senate's procedural rules, causing the need for the House of Representatives to re-vote with the provisions removed" (see here). Although Wikipedia's sources for this claim confirm this procedural issue, they don't explain what it was. What was the nature of this violation?
The bill violated the Byrd Rule:
Under the Byrd rule, the Senate is prohibited from considering extraneous matter as part of a reconciliation bill or resolution or conference report thereon. The definition of what constitutes "extraneous matter" is set forth in the Budget Act; however, the term remains subject to considerable interpretation by the presiding officer (who relies on the Senate Parliamentarian).
Senators Bernie Sanders and Ron Wyden raised the provisions to the Senate parliamentarian who found that they violated this rule as they have no budgetary impact. The Senate then voted to remove all 3 provisions from the bill.
The 3 provisions in the bill that violated this rule are:
- the Cruz provision, which allows 529 education savings plans to be used for homeschool expenses
federal law tax does not currently address home-schooling, any measure providing a tax break for home-schooling families would fall outside the parameters of the fast track process known as “reconciliation.”
- a provision on determining whether private universities will have to pay a new excise tax on their endowments
Another – important to McConnell — would have protected Kentucky’s private Berea College from a proposed excise tax on university endowment earnings
- the title of the bill, “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”
They say those words violate a rule barring provisions that have no impact on the budget or that aren’t necessary for other sections that have a budget impact.