In the Future, Kevin Brady Sees More Reconciliation

Ways and Means chairman thinking about future changes to tax code

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, wants to use the reconciliation budget process to push future changes to the tax code. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As Republicans near final passage of their tax overhaul package, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady said he plans to push the budget reconciliation tool they’ve used to advance the tax bill without Democratic support to further change the tax code.

“I’m going to recommend that we have some form of tax reconciliation in future budgets because there are still areas of the tax code I think we think can be improved, whether it’s retirement savings, education, streamlining,” the Texas Republican said. “And we had a number of good ideas from our members we weren’t able to accommodate.”

Brady said he’s been compiling a list of top tax items that his panel will tackle in future years. Asked why he wants to use reconciliation to advance that agenda rather than regular order, he said, “That could be [a possibility] as well, but I want to make sure that there are options for passing and improving the tax code at every step.”

The chairman’s comment came in response to a question about his plans for provisions of the tax bill that didn’t make it in the conference report because of the Senate’s reconciliation rules.

“We think a lot of good provisions got left on the cutting room floor after the Senate Byrd bath there, so we’re going to assess each of them to decide what the path forward is,” Brady said.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan has already announced his preference to use the next budget reconciliation instructions to overhaul entitlement spending, specifically on welfare programs. The Wisconsin Republican has also mentioned the need to revisit an overhaul of the 2010 health care law, which presumably would also need to be advanced through reconciliation since Democrats in the Senate would be unlikely to support it.

Senate Republicans will hold a slim 51-seat majority in 2018, meaning they can only afford to lose one vote on a reconciliation bill and still pass it with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a tie.

Brady has said previously his focus for 2018 will be overhauling the Internal Revenue Service. Asked Monday if he plans to use reconciliation to do that, “No decision on that yet. My sense is that there could be broad bipartisan support for restructuring the IRS.”

The Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee has found bipartisan support for updating IRS processes and procedures during hearings and round tables they’ve held on the issue this year, he said.

“Both Republicans and Democrats believe we need a new IRS with a customer service focus,” he said. “So no decision on that’s been made, but that could well be a bipartisan effort.”

In addition to a broader overhaul of the tax administrative agency, Brady said he plans to sit down with the acting IRS commissioner to determine what their immediate needs are in terms of implementing the sweeping tax changes Congress is about to pass.

“There will be a number of new rules that come from this effort,” Brady said. “So Secretary [Steven] Mnuchin and I began this conversation last week about the path forward in the Treasury. So we’ll sit down after this is passed and identify what those needs are.”

As to whether that would include additional funding for the IRS, Brady said they’ll discuss the needs and see if the funds are available within the agency’s existing budget.

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