President Trump will outline his plan for comprehensive tax reform in the next few weeks, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters February 9, identifying improvement of the U.S. business environment as an overriding priority.
But even though he identified bipartisan support as one of Trump's goals for comprehensive tax reform, Spicer also said that budget reconciliation -- which would theoretically let Republicans proceed without Democratic support -- seems to be the most likely legislative vehicle for tax reform, as well as repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
"We're looking at, in the next few weeks, rolling out the outline of a comprehensive tax plan that we continue to work" on with Congress, to address both business taxation and individual rates, Spicer said during the White House daily briefing. Spicer was responding to a question about Trump's comments, during a meeting with airline executives earlier in the day, that the White House would have a major tax announcement in the next two or three weeks.
Leaders of both chambers are "absolutely" prepared for Trump's plan, Spicer said, because the White House legislative affairs team and Trump himself have met with members of Congress privately and in larger groups to discuss tax reform. "There is a very large conversation going on to achieve bipartisan support for a package of this nature," Spicer added.
Spicer declined to say how much Trump's tax reform plan would draw from what he proposed as a candidate, or from the House GOP's "A Better Way" tax reform blueprint , but he said Trump's plan would spur economic growth and provide relief to working Americans.
"More importantly, I think, part of the issue that we continue to see over and over again with businesses is that we're facing competition from abroad," Spicer said, emphasizing the importance of creating a tax climate that lures companies to relocate and invest in the United States.
Finding common ground in the timeline Trump identified may prove difficult. Senate Republicans including Finance Committee Chair Orrin G. Hatch of Utah have recently expressed skepticism about the House blueprint's foundational border-adjustable tax feature.
Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., added his opposition to the mix in a Dear Colleague letter February 9, warning the House approach "is regressive, hammers consumers, and shuts down economic growth."
Trump's team is "primarily looking at two reconciliation tracks" to advance ACA repeal via the fiscal 2017 budget and comprehensive tax reform through the 2018 budget, Spicer said, adding that other procedural approaches are also being considered.
"Just so we're clear, these aren't prescriptive," Spicer said of reconciliation as a vehicle for tax reform or ACA repeal. "I think we continue to work towards Congress on a range of options and ideas to accomplish both of those, and other, goals."
The fiscal 2017 and 2018 budgets seem to be the most opportune ways forward, Spicer said, but added he would not want to rule anything in or out. He said that House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will likely weigh in on the best legislative vehicles for tax reform and ACA repeal.
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