Politics

‘Highly Unlikely’ Senate Passes Trump Tax Cut After Election, Hatch Says

Tax, election analysts dismiss Trump proposal as political gambit to rally supporters to polls for GOP

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, talks with reporters after a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on judicial nominations in Dirksen Building on October 24, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate is “highly unlikely” to pass a 10 percent tax cut for the middle class even after the midterm elections, GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch told reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

“I’ve seen miracles happen before,” the retiring Utah Republican said. But he added that it would take “a real monumental effort” to get anything like Trump has proposed to rally Republicans to the polls for the Nov. 6 midterms through the Senate.

Tax and election analysts have dismissed Trump’s tax proposal, which caught House and Senate GOP aides off guard Saturday when he first mentioned it, as a clear political gambit to appeal to his base of blue-collar supporters.

Trump originally promised last Saturday that if Congress pushed through a 10 percent tax cut for “middle-income people,” it would happen soon — “sometime just prior, I would say, to November,” he told reporters as he headed for Air Force One after a campaign rally in Elko, Nevada.

Then, on Monday, he backtracked, saying he expects that tax-reducing measure to be introduced, not completed, in the coming days, even though both the House and Senate are in recess as members hit the campaign trail less than two weeks before Election Day.

Hatch declined to answer whether he has discussed such a tax cut with the president. Instead, he defended Trump’s improvisational, stream-of-consciousness leadership style.

“I can’t say I don’t know anything about it,” Hatch said. “But, you know, he’s an interesting man and he’s a very good leader. And he does things the way he wants to do them and he’s been pretty successful, so far so I’m going to be the last to criticize him, I’ll put it that way.”

Hatch has not discussed the tax proposal with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, but plans to do so, he said.

John T. Bennett contributed to this report.

What Year Is It? Trump’s Midterm Rallies Are Mostly About His 2020 Re-Election Bid

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.