By Jessica Jeane
House and Senate Republicans may be on the cusp of reaching a deal on tax reform, according to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex). GOP lawmakers involved in tax reform discussions are "getting closer" to reaching a deal, which could come informally mid-December.
Differences narrowing. The House and Senate conference committee, which consists of 29 Republican and Democratic lawmakers, is not scheduled to hold its first, formal meeting until December 13, 2017. The final legislation, however, is expected to be the end-result of private Republican negotiations without Democratic support.
Cornyn told reporters on December 12 that the differences between the House and Senate tax reform bills are "narrowing." The Tax Cuts and Jobs Bill (HR 1) cleared the House on November 16, 2017, and the Senate passed its amendment to the legislation in the early morning hours of December 2, 2017 (see Senate tax bill cuts Medicaid, CSR, BHP spending; increases it for Medicare, November 20, 2017, and Significant deficit reduction would come from elimination of individual mandate penalty, November 28, 2017).
Timeline. GOP lawmakers are hoping to pass the unified measure the week of December 18. The Senate will hold its vote first, to then be followed by a vote in the House. To that end, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex) reportedly has said a final deal is anticipated to be reached between the House and Senate by Friday, December 15. Republicans maintain their tax reform goal is to have legislation enacted by the end of the year.
White House. President Trump took to Twitter on December 12 to state his administration is still working toward achieving tax cuts. "Working to pass massive tax cuts (looking good)," Trump said. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters in a December 12 press briefing that the administration continues to work with Congress on tax reform efforts. "As I've said many times before, our focus and our priorities are making sure that we provide middle-class tax relief, and simplifying the code, bringing businesses back here to the U.S. We're going to continue pushing for that and continue working with Congress to make sure we get the best tax package possible."
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