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Ivanka Trump Takes Child Tax Credit Push to Capitol

As with much of the tax overhaul, devil remains in the details

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., left, speaks with Ivanka Trump as they walk through the Capitol en route to a press conference on child tax credits. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., left, speaks with Ivanka Trump as they walk through the Capitol en route to a press conference on child tax credits. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It was hard to walk through the Capitol on Wednesday without stumbling upon Ivanka Trump.

The White House senior adviser and daughter of President Donald Trump had a packed schedule on both sides of the Rotunda, largely promoting an expanded child tax credit that at least for now seems a sure bet to be included in the House and Senate tax code overhaul drafts.

She also appeared with members to discuss policies to end human trafficking, but the tax push has a special currency given debate over the still developing effort to rewrite the tax code. 

Watch: Ivanka Trump Joins Rubio, Scott to Talk About Child Tax Credit

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Trump said she and the White House were prioritizing child tax credits because of how much the economy and life in general has changed since the 1986 rewrite of tax law.

“The composition of our workforce looked very different, and our homes looked very different,” Trump said at a news conference with lawmakers. “Today in the vast majority of American homes all parents work. Our tax code has to recognize and support this reality and support our dual values of work and a family.”

Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who has long pushed for expanding the credit in a joint effort with Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, credited her involvement with giving momentum to their effort.

“Ivanka has been an invaluable ally in the push to expand the child tax credit. I don’t think we’d be as close as we are today without her,” the Utah Republican said in a statement.

That might be in contrast to her presidential father, who does not always stay on message or focus on specific proposals. As Ivanka Trump was at the Capitol, for instance, President Trump was again appearing at odds with lawmakers about the tax treatment of 401(k) contributions.

While she did not stick around for a question-and-answer session with Lee and other members of Congress, she spent the day engaging with an assortment of lawmakers.

“Ivanka wants to see an expansion of the child tax credit as it is an essential part of ensuring a middle class tax cut. She is meeting with members of Congress and advocacy groups to discuss possible proposals,” a White House official said as Trump was making the rounds. “As with other areas of tax reform, the Administration has laid out its vision and is now working with the relevant committees who are preparing key specifics.”

Trump’s schedule included meetings with a large group of Republican members who have advocated for expanded child tax credits, as well as with House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady.

The Republican from Texas has confirmed plans to release legislative text of the House tax plan on Nov. 1, and he suggested to reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast Wednesday that an expansion was on the table, addressing the concerns of some members.

Sen. Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican serving on the Finance Committee, said at the news conference with Trump and GOP lawmakers from both sides of the Capitol that a $2,000 tax credit would be the goal, with Rubio indicating $1,800 was likely a floor.

“$1,800’s like the break-even point, so it’s got to be more than $1,800,” Rubio said. “And then of course the refundability portion is critical because for the vast majority of people that we’re trying to help their primary tax that they pay … is the payroll tax. So if you don’t include payroll tax refundability, you’re not helping the people you’re targeting, certainly not most of them.”

Scott said much of the discussion was about figuring out where to “set the dials” for income levels where the tax credit might be phased out, as well as the size of the refundable credit on the lower end.

And even at a news conference where everyone was in agreement, there was an undercurrent of the reality that every tax provision affects different states and districts in different ways.

The income level that defines the middle class in South Dakota and in New York is not always the same.

“The question we continue to ask ourselves is what is the median income for the middle class,” Nevada GOP Sen. Dean Heller said. “The median income for the state of Nevada is about $55,000, so we want to broaden this as much as we can both ways to make sure that this tax credit has meaning.”

While the devil remains in the details, the Senate did express support for the concept floated by Rubio and Lee when the chamber adopted a nonbinding amendment to the budget resolution promoting such a plan.

“There is no more important job that any of us will ever do than the job of a parent. And if you think about our tax code, it says if you invest money in a piece of equipment or a business, the tax code will help you with that,” Rubio said during the floor debate. “But if you invest it in a future American taxpayer, if you invest it in someone who you are going to need to build the sort of economy and future we want for our nation, the tax code does not really take it into account. That makes no sense to me.”

And Ivanka Trump said Wednesday that, at least among Republicans, “we’re all rowing in the same direction.”

“I’ve been really very inspired by the amount of engagement and reception,” she said.

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