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 ThuneCornyn: Knowing health plan ahead of vote is 'luxury we don't have' Sen. Thune: McCain ‘a hero' to ‘millions’ GOP signals infrastructure bill must wait 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 RodgersCharities push GOP for tax reform change Trump, GOP lawmakers struggle with messaging Paul Ryan: ‘Beautiful day’ to catch up with Bono 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 PaulRand PaulOvernight Healthcare: CBO predicts 22M would lose coverage under Senate ObamaCare replacement Fox News personality: GOP healthcare plan says ‘ideology is less important than victory' Rand Paul opens door to backing healthcare bill on key hurdle MORE (R-Ky.), Tim ScottTim ScottTrump squeezes 'no' vote Heller at healthcare lunch The Hill's 12:30 Report Guess who’s stumping for states' rights? MORE (R-S.C.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamGraham and Kushner met to discuss immigration differences: report Overnight Energy: Exxon sues feds over M sanctions fine Senate panel rejects Trump funding cuts on Energy Department programs MORE (R-S.C.).