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Trump: GOP ‘Very Close’ on Tax Bill, Effects Would Start in February

President endorses 21 percent corporate rate

President Donald Trump delivers his address to a joint session of Congress last year. He started 2018 with an extended Twitter rant. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
President Donald Trump delivers his address to a joint session of Congress last year. He started 2018 with an extended Twitter rant. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 3:46 p.m. | President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that Republican House and Senate tax negotiators have struck a deal on a final overhaul measure. He said Americans will feel the benefits by February if Congress sends him a bill by Christmas.

“As I speak, Congress has reached an agreement on tax legislation that will deliver more jobs, higher wages and massive tax relief for American families and American companies,” the president said, delivering his final pitch flanked by Christmas trees in the White House’s Grand Foyer.

“It’s going to be a lot of money,” said Trump, who then touted GOP estimates about how the measure will help middle-class families: “You’re going to have an extra $2,000.”

Trump said floor votes are “just days away — I hope, I hope.” If both chambers pass the compromise bill, Republicans will be “delivering that victory to the American people,” he said, referring to his campaign pledge to cut taxes.

After turning the microphone over to others — some joined by their young children — the president revealed that the Internal Revenue Service has calculated the measure would help people and businesses within two months.

“It is critically important for Congress to pass these tax cuts,” Trump said. “If Congress sends me a bill before Christmas, the IRS … has just confirmed that Americans will see lower taxes and bigger paychecks beginning in February.”

The address came a few hours after he had a working lunch with House and Senate GOP conferees at the White House, during which he endorsed one of the key changes the negotiators made: an upward adjustment to the corporate rate.

“While the media has focused on the differences between the House and Senate bills, we have very talented representatives right here. I think I can say, Orrin, that we’re very close,” Trump said, looking at Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch. “We’re very, very close.”

“We’ll get it done,” the Utah Republican said. 

Trump signaled his support for tax conferees raising the corporate tax rate from the 20 percent level in the House and Senate bills to 21 percent: “It’s at 35 [percent] right now, so if it got down to 21 [percent], I would certainly be thrilled.”

He told reporters and the lawmakers he felt “guilty” for having them over for a working lunch because they are so close to a final deal on a bill he sold as a job-creation measure. “I want to have a very fast lunch so you can go immediately back and finish it up,” he said. “It’s going to be something very, very special.

“It’s really a tax cut based on jobs and also very good for companies, which also means jobs,” the president said.

Trump offered a teaser, saying there would be a “surprise” in the conferees’ emerging compromise bill, but he told House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady that “maybe I’ll hold the surprise — I think you’ll be very happy with it.”

“So we’re very close to getting it done. We’re very close to voting,” the president said, then touting the performance of the economy since he took office on Jan. 20. “Our economy … has surged from where it [was] when I took it over. We were having an economy that was going in the wrong direction.”

After his remarks, Trump was asked about Tuesday’s Alabama special Senate election, where the GOP candidate he endorsed, Roy Moore, lost to Democrat Doug Jones.

“I would have liked to have had the seat,” Trump said. He said he also doubts the coming loss of a Republican seat will hinder the party’s pursuit of its legislative agenda.

“I think it’s very important for the country to get a vote next week, not because we lost a seat,” he said. “As the leader of the party, I would’ve liked to have had the seat. … I will tell you, to me, it’s very important to get this vote, not because of that.”

“I don’t know what the vote will be,” he said. “I think we’re going to get the vote[s]. We have to get more senators and more congressmen that are Republicans elected in ’18.”

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