Ways and Means Still Seeking ‘One Voice’ on a Tax Package

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By Colleen Murphy, Laura Davison and Kaustuv Basu

Republican members of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee still aren’t in complete lockstep on a tax reform plan, despite the chairman’s calls for a unified plan by the House, Senate and White House.

“I will tell you on a very complicated tax code, I don’t know that will ever be the case,” Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said May 1. “We are 24 very strong, informed individuals, but I’ll tell you we are absolutely committed to the boldest tax reform in a generation that vaults America into the lead and moves us toward a balanced budget as we do that.”

Committee members are “continuing to make those refinements so we can go in as one voice,” Brady said at a news conference after his Republican members met in a two-day retreat. They discussed President Donald Trump’s tax plan and preliminary revenue scores of a House GOP plan from the Joint Committee on Taxation. But certain elements of the GOP tax plan, such as the much-maligned border adjustment, have proved to be tough sticking points as talks have continued for several months.

Brady declined to give any examples of decisions the group made during the retreat. Members are continuing to review feedback they’ve gotten on border adjustment and other elements, he said. House leaders have acknowledged the provision as-is won’t fly in a final bill, and it has faced fierce opposition among Republicans in the Senate.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) took to the Senate floor May 1 to call on Republicans, as well as Democrats, to find enough common ground to push tax legislation forward.

“Bridging that gap and finding the path forward is going to take some serious negotiation and compromise,” Hatch said in prepared remarks. “My hope is that people will be willing to adjust their expectations and bend on their preferences in order to achieve success in this important endeavor.”

But that will “take some time,” Hatch said. He said his committee will be ready to move in “relatively short order.” Republicans in the Senate don’t yet have a public tax plan of their own, but staffers have been working behind the scenes to flesh out ideas.

To contact the reporters on this story: Colleen Murphy at cmurphy@bna.com, Laura Davison at lDavison@bna.com and Kaustuv Basu at kbasu@bna.com, in Washington

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Meg Shreve at mshreve@bna.com

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