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House Republicans told tax details are coming

UPDATED: Wed., Sept. 13, 2017, 5:44 p.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan answers questions during an interview at the Associated Press bureau in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)
House Speaker Paul Ryan answers questions during an interview at the Associated Press bureau in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

WASHINGTON – House and Senate tax writers plan to release an outline detailing their points of consensus with the administration on how to overhaul the tax code the week of Sept. 25, Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Wednesday.

Ryan said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady announced the intent to release more details of the still developing tax overhaul plan during Wednesday’s House Republican Conference meeting.

“Then the tax writing committees are going to take feedback and input and then they’re going to go produce their bills in the weeks ahead,” the speaker told reporters after the conference meeting. “And so this is the beginning of a process.”

While Ryan suggested the outline would reflect consensus of the tax writing committees as a whole, Brady said it would be a product of the “Big Six,” according to a person who was in the room for his announcement. That group is comprised of Brady, Ryan, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn.

“The whole point of all of this is the House, the Senate and the White House are starting from the same page and the same outline, and then the tax writers are going to take it from there on the details,” Ryan said.

Members leaving the meeting said they got the impression a vote on the budget resolution, which is needed for Republicans to move a tax overhaul through reconciliation as they’re planning, would not come until after the tax outline is unveiled.

Many members, especially conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus, have requested more details on what the tax bill would look like before they can commit to voting on the budget.

Brady told the GOP conference Wednesday that he understands and appreciates that request because it shows members are eager to get a tax overhaul passed this year and are serious about getting the details right, according to the person in the room.

The budget is the “runway to land” the tax overhaul, Brady told members, repeating a phrase he’s been trumpeting: “No budget, no tax reform.” The Texas Republican said the goal is for the House and Senate to complete the budget process by mid-October, the person in the room said.

After the budget is adopted, the Ways and Means Committee will introduce a chairman’s mark that will reflect input from all House members, and then the committee will mark up that tax bill before it goes to the floor, Brady told members.

The announcement on forthcoming tax details comes as President Donald Trump is meeting with Republican and Democratic lawmakers to discuss overhauling the tax code. He met with a bipartisan group of senators over dinner Tuesday and has a Wednesday afternoon meeting with a bipartisan group of House members.

Despite Trump’s outreach to Democrats, House Republicans are still pushing to have the tax overhaul move through the budget reconciliation, which would allow it to move through the Senate under a simple majority vote.

“I would love to have the Democrats supporting and working with us in a constructive way on tax reform, but we’re going to do it no matter what,” Ryan said Wednesday when asked if he expects Democrats to work with Republicans to pass a tax bill.

At a separate event hosted by the Associated Press, Ryan said he expects some Democrats ultimately will vote for a tax overhaul but said it would be unwise for Republicans not to use the budget reconciliation process.

“If we have a process that allows us for avoiding filibusters, shame on us for not using that process,” the Wisconsin Republican said.