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Key GOP chairman: Corker had no role in change to tax bill

Key GOP chairman: Corker had no role in change to tax bill
© Greg Nash

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee on Monday shot down reports that a tax break for real estate developers was "airdropped" into the final GOP tax bill and that Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerPentagon: War in Afghanistan will cost billion in 2018 K.T. McFarland officially withdrawn as nominee for ambassador K.T. McFarland withdraws as nominee for ambassador MORE (R-Tenn.) had pushed for it.

"Both assertions are categorically false," Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOvernight Tech: Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up hack | Apple considers battery rebates | Regulators talk bitcoin | SpaceX launches world's most powerful rocket Overnight Cybersecurity: Tillerson proposes new cyber bureau at State | Senate bill would clarify cross-border data rules | Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up breach Hatch introduces bipartisan bill to clarify cross-border data policies MORE (R-Utah) said in a letter to Corker.

Hatch's letter comes after a request from Corker on Sunday to get more information about how a provision relating to pass-through businesses ended up in the final tax legislation. The provision in question allows capital-intensive pass-through businesses to receive more tax relief.

The International Business Times reported that the provision would benefit those with real estate investments such as Corker and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTillerson: Russia already looking to interfere in 2018 midterms Dems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Speier on Trump's desire for military parade: 'We have a Napoleon in the making' MORE. Liberals quickly labeled the provision the "Corker kickback" on social media and suggested the provision was inserted specifically to win the senator's vote.

Corker voted "no" on the Senate's original tax bill earlier this month, which did not include the provision, but said Friday that he would vote for the final measure, which is coming up for a vote this week.

Hatch said he is "disgusted" by press reports that have "distorted" how the provision originated.

He said Republicans have been working for more than a year to provide tax relief for pass-throughs and that the provision in question was derived from part of the House's tax bill.

"It takes a great deal of imagination — and likely no small amount of partisanship — to argue that a provision that has been public for over a month, debated on the floor of the House of Representatives, included in a House-passed bill, and identified by [the Joint Committee on Taxation] as an issue requiring a compromise between conferees is somehow a covert and last-minute addition to the conference report," he said.

Hatch also said he's unaware of Corker's office contacting the conference committee about the provision.

"To the contrary, virtually all the concerns you had raised in the past about the treatment of pass-through businesses in tax reform were to voice skepticism about the generosity of various proposals under consideration," he said.