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Senate Tax Reform Plan to Be Released No Later Than November 10

Posted on November 8, 2017 by Asha Glover, Stephen K. Cooper

The Senate Finance Committee will unveil its tax reform proposal no later than November 10 and mark up legislation the following week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said November 7.

While McConnell predicted during his weekly press conference that the Senate proposal will be released November 10, a spokesperson later clarified that McConnell “hasn’t put a specific date on it; just the end of the week.” 

“We’re moving forward on tax reform here in the Senate,” McConnell told reporters. “The Finance Committee will be rolling out their proposal . . . what we call the ‘chairman’s mark’ at the end of the week so the public can take a look at it. [We’re] moving toward a markup next week.”

The Senate proposal could feature a one-year delay in corporate tax cuts, retention of the seven current tax brackets, and complete repeal of the state and local tax deduction, The Washington Post reported late on November 7.

McConnell also said lawmakers believe that any legislation stemming from this proposal will be revenue neutral. “You know from the budget that the $1.5 trillion gap would be closed if we only had four-tenths of 1 percent growth over the next ten years, which is a really modest projection of what growth would be,” he said, adding that the bill could even bring in revenue.

McConnell’s timeline for the proposal drew complaints from Finance Committee member Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who said it was “impossible” for Democrats to work with Republicans who make their plans in secret.

McCaskill complained about the tax reform process, noting that Democrats won’t see the tax legislation until November 9 or November 10, but amendments for the markup have to be filed by close of business on November 10.

“You can’t take that process seriously as encouraging bipartisanship or any meaningful input from us,” she said. “If they would slow things down a little bit and allow us to have input, there might be a possibility we could get a bipartisan bill.”

McCaskill said the committee has not held many hearings on tax reform in the year she has served on the committee, nor have Republicans presented historical evidence that economic growth will pay for tax cuts.

“I guess I’m supposed to go back and read transcripts from previous congresses? I don’t think that’s the way regular order works,” McCaskill said about the lack of hearings. “‘See tax hearing in 2010 for reference’” — I don’t think that’s they way it supposed to work.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., was among roughly a dozen Democrats who met with White House adviser Marc Short on November 7. He said that President Trump called into the meeting and Democrats raised the issue of whether a $1.5 trillion increase in the federal deficit would help the middle-class. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Trump discussed highlights of the tax legislation, and argued that estate tax repeal was added to help rich Americans who would otherwise be harmed by legislation.

Meanwhile, House Republicans plan a floor vote on their tax reform proposal as early as the week of November 13, once the House Ways and Means Committee finishes marking up the bill. 

Republican leaders say their legislation will provide tax cuts for Americans of all income levels. 

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said the average American family of four would pay no taxes on the first $55,000 in earnings. “They will save more than $1,182,” he said, adding that the money would help struggling families.

But Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., argued that Republicans reached that figure by choosing an “ideal family” living in a low-tax state with no children in college and no medical expenses. “Even that family, the one they chose, over the course of 10 years will get tax increases,” he told reporters. 

Schumer said Republicans might abandon their tax reform plans this year and instead work on legislation to fund the federal government. “They may end up doing that if they can’t pass their tax bill,” he added. Funding for the federal government expires December 8. 

Speaking at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center earlier on November 7,  Finance Committee ranking minority member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said that while there are temporary tax cuts in place for families, the real winners will be corporations. 

“The centerpiece of the Republican tax bill is [a] big corporate tax cut,” Wyden said. “And it’s not temporary, like the family tax cuts are. It’s permanent.” 

“It does virtually nothing for working Americans,” he continued. “Millions in the middle class will see their taxes go up, especially as their temporary tax cuts phase out.”

Wyden also criticized Republicans’ decision to lock Democrats out of the legislative process, and said the bill was “written behind closed doors” and that “there will be no legislative hearings on the content of this plan.”

“In less than a week, the Finance Committee will begin marking up a bill that will make major changes to the tax code, and not one Democrat on the Finance Committee knows what’s in that bill,” Wyden said.

Follow Asha Glover (@AshaSGlover) and Stephen K. Cooper (@ScoopOnTaxes) on Twitter for real-time updates.