House GOP chairman votes against tax bill
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) voted against the GOP’s tax overhaul on Tuesday, in defiance of some fellow Republicans who criticized his defection on the party’s top legislative priority.
Frelinghuysen was among 12 Republicans who voted against the final version of the tax overhaul. All but one of the GOP defectors, including Frelinghuysen, represent districts in high-tax states like New Jersey, New York and California that are expected to be negatively impacted by the bill’s limits on the state and local tax deduction.
“The people of New Jersey already carry an extremely heavy tax burden. They need and deserve tax cuts. Unfortunately, H.R. 1 caps the federal deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) which will lead to tax increases for far too many hardworking New Jersey families,” Frelinghuysen said in a statement.
“This legislation will also damage our state’s housing market and business environment,” he added.
Frelinghuysen also voted against the original House version of the GOP tax plan last month. That vote rubbed colleagues the wrong way because committee chairmen are generally expected to support leadership’s initiatives.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and his leadership team discussed removing Frelinghuysen as chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee after he broke with the party line last month on the tax bill.
Frelinghuysen is a top Democratic target in 2018, given that President Trump won his district only narrowly.
Frelinghuysen is only in his first term leading the Appropriations panel. Assuming he wins reelection and the GOP maintains its House majority, Frelinghuysen could serve as chairman through 2022 under the party’s term limit rules for committee leaders.
If Republicans lose the majority, Frelinghuysen could still serve as ranking member of the Appropriations Committee through that period.
Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, told The Hill last month that he had “real problems” with Frelinghuysen opposing the tax plan.
“This is a committee chairman who’s going to be pitching some kind of spending thing, and if you can’t get on board and support one of the promises we’ve made to the American people, I have real problems with that,” Walker said.
A source close to Frelinghuysen said at the time that his vote against the tax plan was cleared by leadership in advance.
The final tax bill that came out of negotiations between the House and Senate would cap taxpayers’ ability to deduct state and local taxes at $10,000. The original House bill would have only allowed deductions of local property taxes up to the same amount.
The compromise with the Senate was enough to swing Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) from opposing the initial House version to voting for the final bill on Tuesday.
Frelinghuysen, along with 11 other Republicans, voted against both versions.
Rep. Walter Jones (N.C.) was the only Republican who does not represent a high-tax blue state to oppose the tax bill in part because of its impact on the deficit.
The GOP’s tax plan is expected to add more than $1 trillion to the deficit over 10 years.
“I’m all for tax reform, but it must grow the economy, not the debt,” Jones said in a statement.