Senate Lawmakers, Trump Administration Officials Discuss Tax Reform

Senate lawmakers and Trump administration officials held a joint press conference on November 7 to discuss tax reform. The conference comes as the Senate Finance Committee (SFC) prepares to unveil its own tax reform legislation. According to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., this bill will be released by November 10. However, according to SFC member Dean Heller, R-Nev., the bill will be released on November 9.

Meeting to Discuss Tax Reform

The SFC’s tax bill is likely to propose a 20-percent corporate tax rate, mirroring the House bill at least in that regard, Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., predicted on November 7. Perdue said the House bill is a “great starting point.” Likewise, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said the Senate intends to “build on” the House bill, making it clear the Senate bill will contain significant differences. Meanwhile, the House Ways and Means continued their markup of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Bill (HR 1) on November 7.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., acknowledged that Congress has not yet reached consensus on how to approach tax reform. Cruz, like Trump, has stated that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) (P.L. 111-148) individual mandate should be repealed as a revenue raiser. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Tex., has hesitated adding the provision. He thinks it could potentially derail the tax bill’s success. However, on November 7, Brady said he is still weighing the repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate because members have asked him to consider it. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that repealing the mandate would create over $400 billion in revenue, which would help offset the tax bill’s costs.

Additionally, the SFC is reportedly considering keeping the mortgage-interest deduction limit at $1 million. The House’s tax bill proposes capping the deduction at $500,000 for new home sales.

The SFC will begin debating its bill the on November 13. Heller told reporters after leaving a meeting with SFC members that the committee was “putting final touches” on the bill. “I anticipate that we will have amendments from the other side, and we will get a bill down to the floor,” Heller said.

White House

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking at the Senate/administration press conference, said that nothing is more important to the president’s economic agenda than tax reform and tax cuts. The administration looks forward to bringing a bill to the president’s desk for his signature in December, Mnuchin added.

By Jessica Jeane, Wolters Kluwer News Staff

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