Some are saying it’s ‘tax reform or die’ for Republicans in Washington. The party has yet to pass major legislation, the Christmas rush is on and the end of the year is coming up fast.
When a reporter asked Finance Committee chairman Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, if Republicans would get a tax overhaul done by Christmas, he replied, “I hope so.”
Some say they better get it done. President Trump’s year-end agenda hangs in the balance, as do Republican chances in 2018.
President Trump said, “We’re going to give the American people a huge tax cut for Christmas, so hopefully that will be a great big beautiful Christmas present.”
But this is primarily about both boosting the economy, as well as having a signature accomplishment to tout going into the 2018 elections.
Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas told reporters, “The goal is to get the economy growing again, to get people with a little more take-home pay they can spend the way they see fit or save it for their retirement and to make the United States economy competitive in a global economy.”
Trump and the GOP leaders are scrambling to make changes to the Senate version to woo several Republican holdouts. Republicans have only two votes to spare in the Senate. If just three Republicans oppose it, the bill will fail.
When a reporter asked Hatch, “If you don’t get to 50, what is ‘Plan B’?” Hatch replied, “We intend to get to 50.”
The Finance chairman also said he was not concerned about major differences between the Senate and House tax reform plans “because we’re generally able to get together and solve these problems and I think we will.”
In a sign that Republicans are preparing to compromise, Republican Sen. Rand Paul wrote in an opinion column for Fox News, “I’m not getting everything I want — far from it. But I’ve been immersed in this process. I’ve fought for and received major changes for the better — and I plan to vote for this bill as it stands right now.”
Among the holdouts are deficit hawks who worry that tax cuts for businesses and individuals would add to the nation’s mounting $20 trillion debt. So the final bill may contain a “trigger mechanism” to increase taxes if federal deficits start to go up.
All this is happening amid a backdrop of more and more members of Congress facing sexual harassment charges.
And with Republicans holding such a slim majority in the Senate, President Trump hasn’t expressly endorsed embattled Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, but he has been attacking Moore’s Democratic opponent.
And while sexual harassment dominates the headlines, the Senate is focusing on its own priority, hoping to pass a tax reform bill this week so that the details can be worked out with the House and the president can sign the bill by the end of the year.