Trump, GOP Leaders Near Deal on Tax Principles

Sens. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, left, and John Cornyn, R-Texas, are part of a group that has been working on principles for the GOP effort on overhauling the tax code. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)


Top Republican leaders said Wednesday they are close to a deal with the Trump administration on a broad set of tax goals that will guide overhaul efforts.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said he expected a list of tax principles to be unveiled shortly. Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., chairman of the House Ways and Means Tax Policy Subcommittee, said the release could come before lawmakers leave for the August recess.

“There will be some announcements here soon. It’s principles,” Cornyn said.

Lawmakers said they had not yet been briefed on the parameters of the pending accord.

“I understand they are agreed upon by the White House, the Senate and the House, which is clearly progress on what I think is our most important goal this year of meaningful tax reform with a middle class tax cut,” said Rep. Steve Stivers of Ohio, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

A group known as the Big Six has been meeting for weeks on tax issues. The group consists of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, plus Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, representing the Trump administration.

The tax principles would provide a skeleton of sorts that could be fleshed out by members of both tax-writing panels in coming months. GOP aides said that the list of tax principles was intended to provide broad leeway for resolving a number of remaining disputes over plans to restructure the tax code.

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., a Ways and Means member, said she did not believe there would be many specifics. “It’s going to be pretty broad, general terms,” she said.

Asked if she expected it to be more detailed than the one page of principles the White House released earlier this year, Noem laughed. “Well, it should be if they really want it to be newsworthy. But we have not been given specifics.”

Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., said he did not know whether the principles would address the question of whether the much-criticized border tax adjustment would be included in the final plan.

Negotiations between the White House and GOP leaders on tax issues have been ongoing as the House works on a fiscal 2018 budget resolution, a key step toward a tax code overhaul.

The budget, which is awaiting floor consideration, sets limits on discretionary spending and provides reconciliation instructions for 11 authorizing committees to meet deficit reduction goals. Ways and Means, one of the 11 panels, is expected to produce both a tax overhaul and legislation to cut mandatory spending.

Republicans appear to be readying a sales pitch on taxes for the August recess. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, a close ally of President Donald Trump, met Wednesday afternoon with Ways and Means aides in Brady’s office.

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