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House GOP Drafting Tax Reform Proposal

by Countable | 6.23.17

Democrats and many Republicans questioned the behind-closed-doors formulation of the Senate healthcare bill, and now some are questioning whether the GOP push for tax reform may be heading down the same road.

Some prominent Republicans maintain that the initial formulation of draft legislation is often done behind closed doors. Politico quotes Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL):

"Everybody wants a bill written in a big room with a lot of cameras. That’s not the way any legislation around here happens. You can’t pass a secret bill. I think the question is not how the initial draft is produced. I think the issue is how much time do members have to look at it and understand how it works."

Other Republicans, like House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), argue that starting the process behind closed doors is the only way to move legislation through efficiently. Republicans have a lot of legislative priorities they want to deal with before the end of 2017 — health care, tax reform, the debt limit and government funding.

Democrats are already calling for a more open process, however. Sen. Ron Wyden (OR), the top Democrat on the Finance Committee argued:

"The history of successful tax reform is to get both sides in early and to find ways in which each side is able to secure principles that the other side can live with."

The thorny issues the GOP is dealing with in trying to formulate a plan include:

  • The inclusion of a border adjustment tax;

  • Tax rates and brackets;

  • Which tax breaks to scrap;

  • Whether or not the plan can add to the deficit;

  • Whether or not the plan should be tied to welfare reforms.

The ‘Big Six’ — which includes the House Speaker and Senate majority leader, the chairs of committees that oversee tax policy, the Director of the National Economic Council, and the Secretary of the Treasury — are the core group expected to formulate the final draft. Republican members of the Ways and Means Committee insist they’ve also been having multiple, daily meetings on tax reform. In addition, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-SC), chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, met with White House officials this week.

The White House also met this week with centrist-Democrats, the Blue Dogs, to discuss the upcoming legislation.

Politico reports that Brady says a hearing schedule regarding draft legislation will be announced by tax policy subcommittee chairman Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) "at some point."

Should Congress hold hearings and take other steps to open up the process on tax reform legislation to ensure a bipartisan process? Use the Take Action button to tell your reps what you think!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Pixabay / Creative Commons)

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