President Donald Trump plans to head to Capitol Hill on Thursday to make a final pitch to House Republicans just before they vote on a sweeping tax cut bill, hoping to keep lawmakers focused on his top legislative priority.
Trump will speak Thursday with the Republican members of the House of Representatives, before a planned vote later in the day on the chamber’s tax bill.
Some Republicans have raised objections to the bill, citing the potential for tax increases for people living in states such as New York and New Jersey. But GOP leaders are convinced they have enough votes to pass the measure, and Trump had made passing the tax cut bill his primary focus.
Deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah said in a statement that the president would speak to House Republicans ahead of the tax vote “about how important cuts and reform are to jumpstart our economy, make our businesses more competitive, and let hardworking Americans keep more of their well-earned paychecks.”
House Republican leaders felt increasingly confident Monday that they had the votes to pass the bill. Two GOP deputy whips, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe internal doings, said they did not encounter any hard “no” votes during their initial survey of colleagues Monday night.
It is not unusual for presidents to go to Capitol Hill before a big vote, but Trump’s visit comes as some lawmakers wrestle with whether to back a major White House priority even if it could be unpopular in their districts.
The visit will come as the tax effort has completely consumed both chambers of Congress. As the House made plans to vote on its bill Thursday, Senate Finance Committee members Monday began debating their own version of the bill. There are a number of differences between the House and Senate tax cut bills, but GOP leaders are confident that these issues can be resolved and that the bill can be signed into law before the end of the year.
Senate Republicans hope their tax cut bill will pass the Finance Committee by the end of this week, setting up a possible vote in the full Senate the week after Thanksgiving.
Democrats lack the votes to block the bill, but they are trying to make the case that the tax bill would drive up taxes on some families and unfairly benefit the wealthy and corporations.
“What started out as a promise of a significant middle-class tax cut has become a multitrillion-dollar bait-and-switch, a massive handout to multinational corporations and a bonanza for tax cheats and powerful political donors,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, Ore., the top Democrat on the Finance Committee.
Earlier Monday, Trump called for a major change to the tax bills in both the House and the Senate, saying Republicans should use the bills to repeal a key provision of the Affordable Care Act. The demand from Trump is nothing new, but it has been mostly ignored so far by congressional leaders as they try to hold together a fragile coalition of Republicans who can help push these bills into law.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Damian Paletta, Mike Debonis