Houma-Thibodaux's two U.S. representatives voted in favor of the sweeping GOP tax measure that appeared headed for a second a final tally Wednesday.

The House passed the measure this afternoon in a 227-203 vote divided along party lines. The Senate was expected to approve the bill late tonight or early this morning. But before doing that, Democrats said three provisions violated Senate rules and had to be removed by the House in a second vote expected Wednesday.

Republican Reps. Steve Scalise and Garret Graves, whose districts include parts of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, praised the bill as a boost for ordinary Americans and the U.S. economy.

"Today Congress achieved something historic for American families by passing dramatic tax cuts and necessary simplification of the outdated tax code for the first time in 31 years," Scalise said in a news release. "Our bill will deliver much-needed tax relief to American families, workers and businesses who have been struggling under a sluggish economy and who have been calling on Congress to take action on reforms that make our nation’s tax code work better for them in a fairer and more simplified way."

The bill will lower tax rates at every income level, double the standard tax deduction and increase the child tax credit so families struggling to get by will get to keep more of their paychecks, Scalise said. The average family will get a tax cut of more than $2,000 next year, he added.

Critics, however, cite studies that show the tax plan will benefit the rich to a greater degree than middle-income taxpayers. Others cite studies by economists and Congress' own official analysis that say the measure will increase the national debt, which already hovers at more than $20 trillion, by more than $1 trillion.

Graves, however, said the bill will spark economic growth and includes provisions that will specifically benefit Louisiana. They include aid for victims of 2016's widespread flooding across the state and preservation of a historic tax credit that benefits projects to restore and maintain many of Louisiana's oldest buildings.

“This is a game-changing rewrite of our tax system that finally puts what’s best for people – not government – first," Graves said.

He and Scalise said the bill helps eliminate the strategic advantage foreign companies hold over America’s small businesses by providing competitive tax rates.

"After years of seeing middle-class jobs flee overseas, we finally make our businesses competitive again and stop them from being the highest taxed in the industrialized world so they can create good-paying jobs here at home," Scalise said. "With these reforms, hundreds of thousands of new jobs will be created and wages will rise, helping to grow our economy and restore our middle class after the last decade of stagnation."

-- Executive Editor Keith Magill can be reached at 857-2201 or keith.magill@houmatoday.com.