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Thune: Tax reform action 'will depend entirely' on the White House

HERSHEY, Pa. — An overhaul of the tax system won’t get done this Congress unless President Obama and the White House “put their shoulder into it,” Senate Republican Conference Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneFlake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March The 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework MORE (R-S.D.) said Thursday.

“I would like to mark bills up, but I think it will depend entirely on whether the White House wants to engage and really lean into it and put their shoulder into it,” Thune said at the joint House and Senate GOP retreat.

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“Because so far what we’ve seen is the White House, president have expressed an interest rhetorically on the issue of tax reform,” he continued. “But when push comes to shove, really engaging with Congress, we have not seen that.”

Thune, the No. 3 Republican leader in the Senate, said there was “great interest” from his party in reforming the tax code, arguing it would boost the economy and create jobs.

But he said the attitude from the White House was much different than when the Reagan administration pushed for tax reform in 1985 and 1986, when Thune was an aide on Capitol Hill.

“It was a very, very different time and a very, very different level of intensity,” Thune said.

Thune made his remarks at the first news conference of the Hershey summit alongside House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersOvernight Health Care: GOP chair blasts DEA over opioid enforcement | House passes bill to ease ObamaCare calorie rule | Patient groups oppose 'right to try' drug bill Overnight Regulation: EPA sued over water rule delay | House passes bill to ease ObamaCare calorie rule | Regulators talk bitcoin | Patient groups oppose FDA 'right to try' bill House passes bill to ease menu labeling rules under ObamaCare MORE (R-Wash.). The two are co-hosting the retreat that Thune said is being attended by 47 of the 54 senators.

Among those missing were Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulDem wins Kentucky state House seat in district Trump won by 49 points GOP's tax reform bait-and-switch will widen inequality Pentagon budget euphoria could be short-lived MORE (R-Ky.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottAfter Florida school shooting, vows for change but no clear path forward GOP senator: FBI failure in Florida shooting 'a separate issue' from Russia probe Sunday shows preview: Russian charges, Florida shooting dominate coverage MORE (R-S.C.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCongress punts fight over Dreamers to March Pence tours Rio Grande between US and Mexico GOP looks for Plan B after failure of immigration measures MORE (R-S.C.).