Kevin Brady, the chief House tax writer, told the chamber’s Republicans that White House advisers and congressional leaders working on a tax plan will release a framework the week of Sept. 25.
The document will include “core elements of tax reform” agreed on by the so-called Big Six, Brady said Wednesday. White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the target date is Sept. 25. The group jointly released a two-page statement in July that outlined a broad set of agreed-upon tax principles. Specifics, including such basic matters as where to set the corporate tax rate and how to set up individual tax brackets, have yet to emerge.
Brady thanked members during a closed-door meeting Wednesday for their hard work on a tax overhaul and emphasized that it’s more important than ever for the GOP that it delivers on its tax promises, according to a person familiar with the meeting who asked not to be named. The Texas Republican told members that following the tax plan release, the focus will turn to the House and Senate completing the budget process by mid-October, the person said. Brady added that the budget is necessary for a tax revamp.
House Budget Chairwoman Diane Black of Tennessee said Wednesday it’s unlikely that the budget resolution will reach the House floor this month. Republicans have to agree on a 2018 budget resolution—a necessary step to unlock the procedural maneuver they intend to use to pass the tax plan with 50 votes in the Senate.
Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus have said they won’t vote to pass a budget out of the House until they get more details on tax changes. Black said the outline coming from the Big Six should help to assuage the concerns of those members.
If Congress follows Brady’s schedule and adopts a budget resolution by the middle of October, there will be 28 legislative days left on the House calendar for the remainder of 2017. And Congress must act by Dec. 8 to fund the government or face a shutdown, which could distract from the tax debate.
During a press conference last week, Brady, a member of the Big Six, wouldn’t confirm whether any specific decisions had been made and declined to offer a timetable for releasing details or marking up legislation. The other members of the Big Six are House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.
Ryan said the outline to be released would reflect agreement among the tax-writing Ways and Means and Finance committees, and the administration. Subsequently, the committees will take feedback and write the bills in the weeks ahead.
“This is really the consensus of the tax writers themselves so that we’re working from the same page,” Ryan said during a press conference Wednesday. “The tax writers are going to take it from there on the details.” He said he would love to have the Democrats working with the GOP “but we’re going to do it no matter what.”
Middle Class Relief
President Donald Trump has been reaching out to Democrats to discuss a tax revamp. Three Democratic senators joined Trump for a White House dinner Tuesday aimed at winning their support. He has another meeting scheduled Wednesday afternoon with a bipartisan group of moderate House members, the Problem Solvers.
Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who was among the group that met with Trump Tuesday night, said during a Bloomberg Television interview Wednesday that the president stressed his plan would offer tax relief to the middle class, not a “tax cut for the rich.”
Trump’s goal is to get 30 Democratic senators and 30 Republican senators on board to vote for the overhaul, Manchin said. That goal may be difficult; 45 of the 48 Democratic senators signed a letter earlier this year that laid down three conditions for supporting tax legislation: that it not add to the federal deficit, that it not increase the burden on the middle class and that it go through the regular order process in Congress.
Trump continues to put pressure on lawmakers to get a tax bill completed—he posted a Twitter message on Wednesday saying: “With Irma and Harvey devastation, Tax Cuts and Tax Reform is needed more than ever before. Go Congress, go!”
Mulvaney said he thinks Democrats are interested in working together on a tax overhaul. “The question is will they have the political courage to look at the principles and the substance of the proposal and I hope they will,” said Mulvaney.
The budget director added during an interview on Bloomberg Television that the Trump administration wants to see a 15 percent corporate tax rate and that an overhaul should simplify Americans’ ability to file taxes. He said the plan would help spur 3 percent annual economic growth.
“In order to get the size—the magnitude of the reductions that we want in the corporate and the individual rates and in order to get the sweeping reforms that we so desperately need—you absolutely will see an increase in the deficit in the short term,” he said. “But the payoff in the long term is actually that promise of balanced budgets.”
—With assistance from Jennifer Epstein and Anna Edgerton