By Ian Salisbury
December 18, 2017

Republican Sen. Bob Corker caught many by surprise on Friday when he reversed his earlier position and announced that he would support his party’s controversial tax cut.

Now some critics are calling foul, decrying as a #CorkerKickback some last-minute changes to the bill that could enrich Corker personally.

Corker couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. The Tennessee Senator reportedly told International Business Times, which originally broke the story, that he was unaware of the changes which could benefit him when he switched his position.

Corker, who has made headlines this year for feuding with President Trump, was the only Republican to vote against the president’s signature legislative effort when it passed the Senate several weeks ago. At the time he said its price tag—the bill is expected to add $1 trillion to the deficit—was unacceptable. On Friday, however, he appeared to have a change of heart, saying the bill represented a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity for business.

A report by the International Business Times highlighted several last-minute changes to the tax bill that it said would personally benefit Corker and other Republican politicians, including President Trump.

Corker’s vote could be critical. With a 52-seat majority and Arizona Sen. John McCain absent this week for medical treatment, Republicans cannot afford to lose more than a couple of votes.

The tax plan, released Friday after Republicans from the House and Senate worked to reconcile their separate bills, offers a special 20% deduction for business owners—whom lawmakers hope will create jobs—for so-called pass-through income. The deduction had originally been designed to exclude businesses like real estate partnerships, which often have few employees.

Late in the game, however, the joint bill changed in a way that would allow owners of real estate businesses to claim the deduction alongside other business owners, according to the International Business Times. The publication also pointed to several real estate partnerships Corker has stakes in and estimated the tax bill could save him more than $1 million.

On Sunday, Sen. Corker sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee chair Orrin Hatch, asking for an explanation as to how the pass-through provision was added to the tax bill. His office told The Tennessean he was not involved in writing the tax bill and had requested no specific provisions.

All the same, his critics were quick to pounce, creating #CorkerKickback hashtag on Twitter.

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