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Brady Ready to Release Tax Vehicles After Overhaul

‘This isn’t the final step on tax reform’

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House’s longstanding practice to hold back tax bills in the lead up to the current overhaul effort will likely come to an end if the tax code rewrite is signed into law, the chamber’s top tax writer said Tuesday.

Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady said there would be smaller tax bills moving forward if the overhaul effort is successful.

The Texas Republican’s comment holds significance because few tax bills have reached the floor in recent years as tax writers focused on rewriting the tax code. Exceptions include 2015 measures to permanently extend dozens of expired tax breaks and to use tax policy changes to offset $305 billion in infrastructure spending on highway and transit projects.

Under the constitution tax bills must originate in the House. The Senate when it wants to bring up its own tax bills must use a House revenue vehicle to ensure it doesn’t run afoul of the so-called origination clause.

As chairman of Ways and Means, Brady only controls whether tax bills get out of his committee and not when they are scheduled for floor consideration.

House Republicans made the strategic decision not to move tax bills through the House that the Senate had not previously agreed to pass when Democrats controlled the upper chamber so as to not provide them with vehicles to advance their preferred tax policy.

Ever since then, it’s effectively become a tradition in the House, with tax writers saying any tax policy changes would be considered in the context of a larger overhaul.

Now that the larger overhaul has a chance of being passed into law, tax writers will have to re-evaluate that strategy. Members will likely continue to push for a variety of tax policy changes, as many issues will not be addressed to their satisfaction by the current tax bill. House Republicans are likely to be more receptive to moving bills while both chambers remain in their party’s control.

Brady during an event at the American Enterprise Institute said Tuesday the overhaul measure will not be the last tax bill, citing changes to retirement tax policy and tax rules governing financial products as examples of future legislation tax writers are likely to propose.

Asked later during a conversation with reporters at the Capitol to elaborate on that, Brady said, “There’s been proposals on multi-employer pensions, other issues, that really require I think more study and thought before the House acts on it. I know that’s on our to-do list.”

“We’ve had members work with industry to bring back improvements in different sectors, financial products being one of them,” he added. “But there are other areas well.”

Brady described his overall point as: “This isn’t the final step on tax reform. There’s still a number of areas of the tax code that I think can be further modernized, including from a start-up standpoint, you know on job creators, to retirement tax issues.”

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