White House Lays Out Ambitious Deadline For Tax Reform

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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Washington, D.C. — White House legislative affairs director Marc Short said Monday the administration expects tax reform to pass as early as November.

The House Ways and Means Committee will begin the markup process on tax reform in September, with the goal of pushing a bill through the House in October and the Senate in November, Short told a group gathered at a conference hosted by conservative groups Americans For Prosperity and Freedom Partners in downtown Washington. At that point, the bill would make it to President Donald Trump’s desk for approval.

Short described the tax reform timeline as “aggressive,” and hinted that both the administration and members of Congress are in for a “long fall.” The White House and Republican leadership in Congress released a joint statement on July 27 detailing the legislative timeline for tax reform, a statement similar to Short’s comments Monday, but with much less detail.

“Our expectation is for this legislation to move through the committees this fall, under regular order, followed by consideration on the House and Senate floors,” the statement read.

Trump promised to push for tax and regulatory reform once he took office, a promise he has kept in part with a few executive orders aimed at repealing Dodd-Frank. Despite the president’s efforts, the onus of passing comprehensive tax reform lies not with the Office of the President, but on Congress, where divisions between Democrats, Republicans and factions within the Republican Party threaten to upend any effort on Republican leadership to push reform to the U.S. tax code. (RELATED: Divide Among GOP IN Congress Isn’t Going Anywhere)

Republican leadership is planning to use the budget reconciliation process to pass tax reform — the same method leadership used to push health care reform. The budget reconciliation rules allow Republicans to bypass a Senate filibuster and pass a bill through a simple majority, with Vice President Mike Pence acting as the tiebreaker.

Short hinted that bipartisan support is not out of the question with tax reform, noting that administration officials have met with “over 200 members of Congress” on the topic of tax reform since Trump took office in January. Short saw an opportunity to snag some Democratic votes, given that some Democrats are in vulnerable spots in the 2018 election cycle.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said at the event the sell for tax reform should resonate with those on both sides of the aisle and even addressed the argument often floated that reforming the tax code will only benefit the wealthiest Americans.

Mnuchin pointed to the fact that the administration’s tax reform proposal removes many of the deductions and loopholes available to the wealthy. “Most people in the top rate, they’re not going to get a tax cut,” Mnuchin said. “This is not about a tax cut on the rich.”

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