Blue Dog Dems weighing support for GOP tax bill

Blue Dog Dems weighing support for GOP tax bill
© Greg Nash

Conservative-leaning Democrats said Thursday that they’ll take a look at the Republicans’ sweeping tax-reform proposal in hopes of reaching a bipartisan deal — a sharp contrast to the immediate vilification coming from Democratic leaders.

The leaders of the Blue Dogs, while quick to bash the partisan process in which the GOP tax plan was forged, said they’re analyzing the legislation to see if it meets their standards. If Republicans cross the aisle for input, the lawmakers suggested, there may be room for them to jump on board.

"As Blue Dogs, the door is never closed to pursuing bipartisan solutions,” the three Blue Dog co-chairmen — Reps. Jim CostaJames (Jim) Manuel CostaFresno congressman calls for Senate to take up gun legislation after deadly mass shooting at football party Overnight Defense: Protests at Trump's NYC Veterans Day speech | House Dems release Pentagon official's deposition transcript | Lawmakers ask Trump to rescind Erdogan invite Bipartisan House members call on Trump to rescind Erdoğan invitation MORE (D-Calif.), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) — said in a statement.

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“Although we strongly disagree with the process that produced this tax bill, our members will evaluate its contents in a measured way to see how it compares to the principles of the Blue Dog Vision for Tax Reform.

“History proves that a bipartisan process can lead to credible revenue neutral tax reform,” they added. “Our hope is that our Republican colleagues remember that, and participate in the give and take that's required for a truly bipartisan solution."

Such bipartisanship seems unlikely, however, given the struggle faced by the Republicans simply to get a partisan proposal out the door. Those delicate, closed-door negotiations dragged on for days, and any changes to appease the 18-member Blue Dogs would risk losing Republican support.

Rep. Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooDemocrats request info on Google-Ascension partnership Democrats demand FCC act over leak of phone location data Hillicon Valley: TikTok faces lawmaker anger over China ties | FCC formally approves T-Mobile-Sprint merger | Silicon Valley lawmakers introduce tough privacy bill | AT&T in M settlement with FTC MORE (D-Calif.) predicted the Democrats would be united in opposition.

It’s unclear if the Republicans will need Democratic votes to pass their tax bill through the House. While the GOP is united behind the concept of tax cuts, a number of members are already balking at specific provisions of the plan they fear will lead instead to tax increases for their constituents. This is especially true of the Republicans in wealthier states like New York, New Jersey and Illinois, who are already voicing concerns that the elimination of the state and local tax deduction, known as SALT, would harm their districts.

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Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), for instance, quickly announced that he’ll oppose the package. And Rep. Pete KingPeter (Pete) KingRetiring lawmaker's 2018 opponent won't run for seat, citing 'difficult' pregnancies House panel advances flavored e-cigarette ban Hillicon Valley: Schumer questions Army over use of TikTok | Federal court rules against random searches of travelers' phones | Groups push for election security funds in stopgap bill | Facebook's new payment feature | Disney+ launch hit by glitches MORE (R-N.Y.) said he’s tending that way.

“I’m still analyzing it, but right now, I’m strongly leaning no,” King said Thursday.

Democratic leaders, meanwhile, are hammering the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as a giveaway to the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused the Republicans of “betraying” their own constituents, singling out California Republicans in particular for threatening tax hikes on their constituents through the elimination of the SALT benefit.

“It’s priority is to help the wealthy — it’s in their DNA,” Pelosi said Thursday of the tax plan. “It is rubbing salt in the wounds of their financial instability.”