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Trump urges House to pass tax reform bill by Thanksgiving

Updated November 1, 2017 - 9:30 am

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump rallied with business leaders at the White House on Tuesday as Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill took shots at each other before the release of a tax reform bill in the House.

Trump told the leaders he wants the House to pass a tax reform bill by Thanksgiving and sign legislation into law by the end of the year.

Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, plans to unveil his legislation this week and hold committee votes on the bill by next week. In a statement late Tuesday, Brady said that after consulting with Trump and the House GOP leadership team, the text of the bill would be released on Thursday.

“It’s cuts and it’s relief and it’s also reform. And frankly, it’s also simplification,” Trump said of the legislation during a round-table discussion with business leaders gathered in the Roosevelt Room. “So we’re covering everything.”

But even Republicans are divided on some measures expected to be in the bill, and the biggest obstacle to reform is the Senate, where the GOP holds a slim 52-48 majority that gives lawmakers in the upper chamber influence to shape a tax reform bill.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the House GOP tax reform bill represents “open warfare on the middle class” because it is expected to eliminate deductions for state and local income taxes, as well as capping tax contributions to individual 401(k) retirement accounts.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., said the “current Republican tax proposal targets Nevada families.” She said doubling the standard deduction but eliminating deductions of state and local taxes would mean a net tax hike on most families in the state.

Trump, though, told reporters that he expects the tax reform bill to pass with support from a few Democrats.

Following a GOP caucus luncheon attended by Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Senate would take up tax reform next week.

“We are full speed ahead,” McConnell said, adding that he expects legislation “on the floor in the very near future.”

Brady has hinted that his bill would allow property taxes, charitable giving and mortgage interest to be deducted from federal income taxes, making individual filing simpler.

But Republican and Democratic lawmakers from states that tax income have balked at eliminating those local taxes from being deducted.

And Trump has asked House lawmakers not to reduce the limit of tax-exempt contributions on individual retirement accounts.

Another tax reform bill is being written in the Senate Finance Committee, where Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is working with Republicans to craft legislation that can pass with a simple majority.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., a committee member, supports Ivanka Trump’s call for doubling the child tax credit — a move he said would help Nevada families — and tax breaks for businesses to create local jobs.

He said he wants a tax reform bill that ensures “Nevada’s hardworking families and small business owners come out ahead.”

Trump, meanwhile, told business leaders he wants the corporate tax lowered from 35 percent to 20 percent, which he said would bring $4 trillion back into the country.

Brady has not put a timeline on how quickly the corporate tax rate would drop in his legislation.

Trump said Tuesday he’s not interested in seeing a “phase-in” of corporate tax reduction.

But conservative Republicans are weighing deficit concerns as both chambers set a course to draft and pass legislation before the end of the year. By law, tax legislation must be initiated in the House.

A budget adopted by Congress would allow $1.5 trillion to be added to the deficit over 10 years.

Republicans are seeking to offset costs of tax cuts with revenue-raising measures.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., criticized both parties for being imprudent.

Republicans can afford to lose no more than two votes in the Senate to pass legislation. And deficit concerns in the House could also pose problems, where Republicans narrowly passed the budget on a 216-212 vote.

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7390. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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