Lobby firm scores top House Republican tax aide

Lobby firm scores top House Republican tax aide
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Harold Hancock, the top tax counsel to the House Ways and Means Committee, has joined law and lobby firm McGuireWoods, the firm told The Hill.

In the new position, as a partner at the firm, Hancock stands to play an important role as tax reform moves through Capitol Hill this year.

He has spent the last six years on the tax-writing panel, serving under three chairmen: former Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), now-Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump once asked Paul Ryan why he couldn’t be ‘loyal': book AEI names Robert Doar as new president GOP can't excommunicate King and ignore Trump playing to white supremacy and racism MORE (R-Wis.) and the committee’s current leader, Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyTexas governor, top lawmakers tell Trump not to use hurricane relief funds to build border wall Trump on declaring national emergency: 'Not going to do it so fast' Dems look to chip away at Trump tax reform law MORE (R-Texas).

Congress is working on advancing comprehensive tax reform, and leadership both in the White House and in the Capitol have a goal of completing it by the end of the year.

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“It very much is a workable goal,” Hancock told The Hill of the year-end target. “Members need to make final decisions on what this plan will look like, and [congressional] staff is preparing every possible option for them.”

“As a staffer, your job is to write them with every possible option to make it workable,” he added. 

The Ways and Means Committee has been taking the lead on tax reform and is working on legislation based off a "blueprint" on tax reform House Republicans released last year. The blueprint would lower the top individual tax rate to 33 percent and the corporate tax rate to 20 percent.

Tax reform is a heavy lift for policymakers, but also for lobbyists on K Street who hope to shape the legislation for clients. Already, there has been a flurry of lobbying activity on the House GOP blueprint, particularly over the "border adjustment" provision to tax imports and exempt exports.

Hancock helped create the so-called discussion draft on tax reform put out by Camp in 2014, when the former Michigan lawmaker helmed the House Ways and Means Committee — considered the precursor to the GOP blueprint.

He says that Ryan, who is now the top Republican in the House, had urged the ball forward, but Brady especially pushed both other members of the committee and staff to be “bolder and more creative” on tax reform than Congress had been previously.

The panel has been working to “build up that foundation [of the Camp draft] and … be even bolder in what they do. Brady has challenged members of the Ways and Means Committee and the staff to make his vision a reality,” Hancock said. 

"Harold was a wonderful member of our team and I am so grateful for his service at the Ways and Means Committee," Brady said in a statement to The Hill.

McGuireWoods also boasts the expertise of Russ Sullivan, who served as the longtime Democratic staff director for the Senate Finance Committee, and Rosemary Becchi, who served as the Republican tax counsel on the committee, which handles tax issues in the upper-chamber.

Sullivan called Hancock a “strategic thinker” with “excellent business instincts,” in a statement released by the firm.

“He knows the history, the process for getting things done on Capitol Hill and, and how the leaders crafting this legislation think,” he continued of Hancock. “This will benefit our clients’ businesses in myriad ways.”

The firm’s lobbying arm, McGuireWoods Consulting, earned $5.6 million in lobbying fees last year, working on tax issues for clients including the National Petroleum Institute, tobacco giant Altria, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and the industry group for alcohol producers, the Distilled Spirits Council, among others.

"During his six years at Ways and Means, Harold treated members, staff and outside stakeholders with courtesy and respect. He demonstrated his command of the tax code while listening to people’s concerns. Those skills will make him a successful attorney at McGuireWoods," Sullivan told The Hill.

Naomi Jagoda contributed.