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Eleventh Hour Tax Hiccups for GOP

Ways and Means chairman flips on delay

United States Capitol building on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
United States Capitol building on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House will delay its planned rollout of a tax overhaul measure.

Two sources with knowledge of the plans said Tuesday evening the bill text release would be delayed, but Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, refused to say. 

“Here’s what I can say: We are making excellent progress. We are very close to what we set out to do — bold, pro-growth tax reform,” Brady said late Tuesday. “A lot of work remains with the drafters right now. They will continue to work through the night. We are moving forward. No announcement of change in the schedule.”

Barely 30 minutes after telling reporters he had no schedule change to announce, Brady announced the tax overhaul bill release scheduled for Wednesday would be delayed until Thursday.

“Ways and Means Committee Members met tonight to discuss the work we are doing on pro-growth tax reform,” he said in a statement. “In consultation with President Trump and our leadership team, we have decided to release the bill text on Thursday. We are pleased with the progress we are making and we remain on schedule to take action and approve a bill at our Committee beginning next week.”

Brady has been trying for days to reach agreement with Republicans from high-tax states on state and local tax deductions. He has said repeatedly that the bill would be unveiled Wednesday, with a markup next week.

Over the weekend, Brady announced a proposal to keep the deduction in place for property taxes but not state income or sales taxes. Lawmakers from New York and New Jersey have been leading the charge against changes to the so-called SALT deduction. There are 28 Republicans from New York, New Jersey and California — three of the states most affected by SALT.

Ways and Means Republicans were in meetings Tuesday to finalize text of the bill. A comprehensive rewrite of the tax code has long been a goal of Republicans, and it was expected to be doable with the party controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress. 

But there are concerns that if Republicans cannot deliver on a tax overhaul, especially after unsuccessful efforts to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law, that they could lose control of the House or Senate. The president’s party typically loses seats in a midterm election. 

Brady earlier in the day had indicated changes to tax benefits for retirement plans would either stay the same or be increased. The top House tax writer had said the plan might increase contribution limits, though he didn’t specify if he meant pre-tax limits.

Ryan McCrimmon contributed to this report.

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