House, Senate Prepare to Reconcile Tax Reform Bills

Congress is preparing to reconcile tax reform bills approved by the House and Senate. The two bills are similar but have significant differences. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Bill (HR 1) cleared the House on November 16. The  Senate passed its amendment to the legislation in the early morning hours of December 2. The full text of the Senate’s engrossed amendment to HR 1, as approved by the Senate, is now available.

Reconcile Tax Reform Bills

The two chambers are currently devising a conference committee where both bills will be examined by chosen lawmakers. The two bills will then be crafted into one, unified measure called a “conference report.” Although other procedural routes are available, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has stated “regular order” through a conference committee is preferred. It is expected that the final bill will closely resemble the Senate’s version because of Senate budgetary rules.

House

The House on the evening of November 4 voted to send its bill to conference by a 222-to-192 vote. That vote count represented a number of Republicans voting “no” alongside Democrats. Ryan subsequently announced his picks for the conference committee. The conference committee will include House Way and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Tex.,  as conference chair. It will also include fellow members Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Peter Roskam, R-Ill., Diane Black, R-Tenn., and Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, announced her picks for the committee conference. Her picks included Ways and Means ranking member Richard Neal, D-Mass., and Reps. Sander Levin, D-Mich., who recently announced his upcoming retirement, Lloyd Doggett, D-Tex., Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Kathy Castor, D-Fla.

“Both chambers have put our best ideas forward and now we will build off our ideas in a conference committee,” Brady said in a statement after the House vote. “In the weeks ahead, we will send a bill to the President for the first time in 31 years that cuts taxes for families and job creators and ushers in a new era of economic growth,” he added.

According to House Democrats, however, the bill is more geared toward corporations and wealthy individuals. “Nothing about the GOP Tax Plan puts the middle class first,” Neal said in a December 5 tweet. “Democrats will continue to fight to protect hardworking Americans across our country.”

Senate

On the other side of the U.S. Capitol, the Senate is expected to hold its own vote on heading to conference with the House this week. “I look forward to the Senate voting to join the conference later this week,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor on December 5. “And in the end, both chambers will have the opportunity to pass the final legislation to help families keep more of their hard-earned money, to create good jobs, and to jumpstart economic growth,” he added.

Corporate Tax Rate

It appears, for now, that the permanent corporate tax rate cut to 20 percent, as proposed by both the House and Senate, will remain in the new bill. President Trump, over the weekend, suggested to reporters that the corporate tax rate proposal may rise to 22 percent. The two percentage points could help raise revenue for other cuts, but Senate leadership, at this time, is not open to the change. The Senate bill currently calls for the 20-percent corporate rate to begin in 2019 while the House version has the 20-percent rate set to start immediately in 2018. Both bills would make the 20-percent rate permanent.

“I think the corporate rate should be at 20; both bills reflect 20 percent,” McConnell told reporters on November 5 in response to a question about Trump’s position on the matter. “We think that’s important to make sure we’re competitive in the global economy.”

By Jessica Jeane, Wolters Kluwer News Staff

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as Passed by the Senate on December 2, 2017, HR 1

JCT Estimated Revenue Effects of Modifications to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, As Reported by the Committee on Finance, JCX-62-17

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