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Tax Reform Discussions Nearing Legislation, Brady Says

Posted on September 11, 2017 by Stephen K. Cooper

Congressional Republicans negotiating a comprehensive tax reform package are getting close to producing legislation, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said September 8.

Emerging from a meeting with his committee members, Brady said no decisions had been made during the briefing, which was called to update lawmakers on the progress made by the “Big Six” group of GOP lawmakers and Trump administration officials. “I feel like we’re getting close on a number of key issues, which allows the committee to translate that into the actual bill,” he said, adding that members also discussed healthcare reform and other priorities.

“We’re still on the timetable of delivering this to the president by the end of the year,” Brady told reporters. Assuming the bill has enough support, it will go to the House floor for consideration following the committee markup, he said.

Brady’s comments came as President Trump took to Twitter to chide lawmakers to quicken the pace of tax reform and tax cut legislation. “Don't wait until the end of September. Needed now more than ever. Hurry!” Trump tweeted.

At least one Ways and Means member called on the White House to increase its involvement in crafting tax reform.

Rep. Tom Rice, R-S.C., acknowledged that the administration was involved in eliminating the border-adjustable tax earlier this year but said it needs to make its preferences known.

“The White House cannot now simply stand back and say, ‘Well, what else you going to come up with?’ and wait for us to bring that to fruition and then shoot down major parts of it again,” Rice said. “They need to be a partner in developing the next framework so that we can avoid going through this exercise to a dead-end street.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders hesitated to definitively say whether tax reform would be enacted by the end of the year. “If we could get it done tomorrow, I think everybody would be happy with that, but obviously it’s going to be a process,” she said at a September 8 briefing. The White House’s goal is to get it done “as soon as possible . . . but we want to make sure we get it done right,” she added.

Briefings to Come

Republican lawmakers clamoring for more tax reform details could get their wish as early as the week of September 10, according to a tax lobbyist with close ties to the tax reform negotiators. The lobbyist, who requested anonymity, told Tax Analysts that a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee said September 7 that rank-and-file members would be briefed by the Big Six on its tax plan the next week.

Ways and Means member Kenny Marchant, R-Texas, said committee members expected their briefing on the Big Six consensus plan during the week of September 4, but because of Congress’s busy schedule, it is now likely to come the following week.

Marchant noted that if the consensus plan includes temporary tax cuts, it will signal a big shift from what committee Republicans have been planning.

Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., said committee members are eager to move on tax reform. “I love our plan. I want it done as soon as we can get it,” she said, adding that once some final decisions are made, lawmakers will be “ready to roll.”

One committee Democrat was skeptical about the level of progress reported by Brady and other Republicans.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, predicted GOP lawmakers would end their discussions at the same point they started, by trying to lower taxes for multinational corporations rather than small businesses and individual taxpayers.

“I’m not sure that tax reform is even the correct title, because this seems to be really devolving into mainly a tax cut,” Doggett told Tax Analysts. “There’s no real specifics about how we’re going to pay for lowering the corporate rates. What’s the reform part of their tax cut?”

Jonathan Curry and Dylan F. Moroses contributed to this article.

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