President Donald Trump on Sunday afternoon urged House Republicans on a conference call to rally behind a Senate-passed budget bill, touting it as the quickest way to enact sweeping tax cuts later this year without Democratic support.
“We are on the verge of doing something very, very historic,” Trump told GOP lawmakers, according to a Republican familiar with the call.
Following multiple failed attempts to overhaul the health-care system, Republicans are eager for a marquee legislative victory and see tax reform as their best shot at working with Trump to deliver on a major campaign promise.
During the call, Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., argued that passing the revised Senate budget this week provides the best shot to get a tax bill enacted by the end of the year, according to participants.
Republican leaders argued that is the better alternative at this point to negotiating with the Senate to resolve differences with the House’s fiscal blueprint.
Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., chairman of the House Budget Committee, said passage of the Senate budget could occur this week.
Such a move “may save as many as 10 or 12 legislative days,” Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said during an appearance earlier Sunday on “Fox News Sunday.” He called that prospect a “big deal” as the party seeks to coalesce around a tax plan by year’s end.
In a bid to build momentum for taking that course, Trump and Vice President Pence joined the House GOP call.
Significant differences between the House and Senate blueprints could have presented a stumbling block. Most notably, the House version authorized a tax overhaul that does not add to the deficit, while the Senate approach increases the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years. But most conservative hard-liners in the House, a group that has raised concerns in the past about deficit spending, appeared to be inclined to accept the Senate version in the interest of accelerating work on a tax overhaul.
The actual writing and selling of a bill still poses significant challenges in the coming weeks, however. Even with the wiggle room that the Senate budget gives lawmakers to add to the deficit, Republicans need to find massive amounts of new revenue. That’s because their tax-cutting wish list tips the scales at an estimated $5 trillion.
Tapping any meaningful source of new money means pinching one constituency or another. Asked Sunday about a New York Times report that Republicans are considering capping what workers can contribute tax-free to their 401(k) retirement accounts, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., demurred. “We’re just beginning the process of actually crafting the bills,” he said in an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It’s way too early to predict the various details.”
Nevertheless, congressional Republicans are eyeing an aggressive schedule for moving a tax package. House Republicans are aiming to unveil, amend and pass a bill by mid-November.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · John Wagner, Tory Newmyer