President Donald Trump invited a bipartisan group of House Ways and Means Committee members to the White House Tuesday to discuss the tax reform framework slated to be unveiled this week.
GOP lawmakers said they felt that the meeting was productive, telling reporters that it allowed their Democratic colleagues to ask questions and discuss where they can find common ground.
“I think the president is asking for help and he laid out the vision, so we’ll see,” Republican Rep. Jim Renacci of Ohio told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “I think Republicans and Democrats agree we’ve got to reduce corporate tax rates. I think they also realize we’ve got to cut taxes on the middle class.”
GOP Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania said that, while Democrats initially seemed skeptical, the president assured them he isn’t aiming to put forward a plan aimed at prioritizing cuts for high-income earners.
“He said, ‘Hey listen. I have a lot of wealthy friends and they tell me don’t worry about us, let’s worry about people who haven’t had a raise in so many years — it’s really about people who’ve seen their wages frozen, let’s make sure they have more take-home pay,'” Kelly said. “I just think they didn’t expect that. “
Democratic Rep. Linda Sanchez of California said she’s hopeful bipartisan tax reform is possible, but isn’t getting her hopes up.
“He kept talking about this great bipartisan effort with what they are unveiling tomorrow, but what they are unveiling is basically what the Republicans have been working on, because we’ve been excluded from those discussions,” she told reporters. “I mean, that was the first time we’d ever sat in a room and had a discussion with and an equal number of Rs and Ds.”
Sanchez said she expects the bill will go through committee, but will likely be passed out of the House along party lines.
Texas Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett was more pessimistic about the possibility of passing legislation both parties feel comfortable supporting, arguing they should have been brought into the conversation earlier.
“Trump asked for Democrats to jump on the caboose after the tax train has already left the station,” he said in a statement. “I saw no Democrat ready to jump on board.”
House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady asserted that the meeting does not signal Republicans are putting a backup plan in place in the event that they fail to pass a conservative tax reform bill.
“It’s a recognition that President Reagan’s reforms were ultimately bipartisan, not necessarily every step of the way,” he told reporters. “It’s a recognition that all communities are suffering and America is falling behind the rest of the world in every city, every county, and every neighborhood. So he encouraged us to work together to find common ground.”
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