Se­nate Repub­li­cans vote to go to com­mit­tee with House tax-cut pack­age

Lead­ers will work to iron out dif­fer­ences in the plans, push bill for­ward

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY DAVID SHERFINSKI

Se­nate Repub­li­cans on Wed­nes­day voted to en­ter into a con­fer­ence com­mit­tee with the House to iron out dif­fer­ences be­tween the two cham­bers’ $1.4 tril­lion tax-cut pack­ages, tak­ing the next step in the GOP’s push to get a bill to Pres­i­dent Trump’s desk by year’s end.

The Se­nate voted 51-47 to go to con­fer­ence, af­ter the House voted to do so ear­lier in the week.

“The Amer­i­can peo­ple de­serve taxes that are lower, sim­pler and fairer. By vot­ing to go to con­fer­ence, we will be one step closer to get­ting it done,” said Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell.

The Se­nate passed its tax pack­age early Satur­day, and the House did so last month.

Mr. McCon­nell an­nounced Wed­nes­day evening the eight Repub­li­can sen­a­tors who will start ne­go­ti­a­tions with the House through a bi­cam­eral con­fer­ence com­mit­tee.

The con­fer­ees in­clude: Fi­nance Com­mit­tee Chair­man Or­rin G. Hatch of Utah, Bud­get Com­mit­tee Chair­man Mike Enzi of Wy­oming, and En­ergy and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Com­mit­tee Chair­woman Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

The other five con­fer­ees are all mem­bers of the tax-writ­ing Fi­nance Com­mit­tee: Sens. John Cornyn of Texas, John Thune of South Dakota, Rob Port­man of Ohio, Tim Scott of South Carolina, and Pat Toomey of Penn­syl­va­nia.

Both the House and Se­nate plans slash the cor­po­rate tax rate from 35 per­cent to 20 per­cent, trim rates for in­di­vid­u­als, and ax var­i­ous ex­emp­tions and de­duc­tions while ex­pand­ing oth­ers.

But there are still sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences that need to be ironed out.

“There are things that I like bet­ter in the Se­nate bill; there are things that I like bet­ter in the House bill,” Mr. Trump said Wed­nes­day. “I think when they come out, we’ll have some new ad­di­tions and we’ll have the best of each.”

Among other things, the Se­nate’s bill in­cludes a re­peal of Oba­macare’s in­di­vid­ual man­date, while the House’s does not.

Law­mak­ers are also work­ing through how much of the state and lo­cal tax de­duc­tion to re­store, af­ter putting the en­tire break on the chop­ping block ear­lier in the process.

Both the House and Se­nate plans pre­serve a lo­cal prop­erty tax de­duc­tion with a $10,000 cap, but law­mak­ers are talk­ing about a change that would al­low tax­pay­ers to choose be­tween ap­ply­ing the de­duc­tion to prop­erty taxes or in­come taxes.

“That sounds like a kind of rea­son­able idea,” Mr. McCon­nell told ra­dio host Hugh He­witt on Wed­nes­day.

But that could also boost the price tag of the over­all pack­age as well. In ad­di­tion to a $1.5 tril­lion cost limit, the fi­nal prod­uct can’t in­crease fed­eral deficits in the long run if Repub­li­cans lever­age fast-track rules that al­low them to by­pass a fil­i­buster and pass a bill with a sim­ple ma­jor­ity.

“It’ll have to be rev­enue neu­tral in the end,” Mr. McCon­nell said. “And ev­ery time you make an ad­just­ment in one area, you have to ad­just some other area.”

Democrats, mean­while, have cast the plans as a give­away to the rich and say Repub­li­cans are rush­ing to fin­ish be­fore peo­ple can fig­ure out what’s in the leg­is­la­tion.

“There is no telling what swamp crea­tures have crawled up to Capi­tol Hill to get their fin­gers on this bill at the 11th hour,” said Sen. Ron Wy­den, the rank­ing Demo­crat on the Se­nate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee.

The Se­nate plan also calls for the new in­di­vid­ual tax rates to ex­pire af­ter 2025, in part to com­ply with the fast-track bud­get rules that limit the cost of the pack­age to no more than $1.5 tril­lion.

Repub­li­cans have said they fully ex­pect law­mak­ers to ex­tend those breaks in the fu­ture, while Democrats say it’s an ex­am­ple of how the GOP plans pri­or­i­tize cor­po­ra­tions over the mid­dle class, since the lower 20 per­cent cor­po­rate rate is per­ma­nent.

The Se­nate’s rel­a­tively drama-free vote on Wed­nes­day was in con­trast to the pro­ceed­ings on the House floor dur­ing the lower cham­ber’s vote to go to con­fer­ence Mon­day.

A num­ber of House con­ser­va­tives ini­tially with­held their sup­port amid a dis­pute over gov­ern­ment fund­ing leg­is­la­tion, be­fore enough re­lented in the end to de­liver GOP lead­ers the votes they needed to move the process for­ward.

“There are things that I like bet­ter in the Se­nate bill; there are things that I like bet­ter in the House bill. I think when they come out, we’ll have some new ad­di­tions and we’ll have the best of each.”

— Pres­i­dent Trump

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

“The Amer­i­can peo­ple de­serve taxes that are lower, sim­pler and fairer. By vot­ing to go to con­fer­ence, we will be one step closer to get­ting it done,” said Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell. The Se­nate passed its tax pack­age Satur­day, and the House did so last month. The GOP is push­ing to have it done soon.

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