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 CostaHouse GOP secures last-minute change to gun bill Trump tells FEMA not to send more money to California for forest fires GOP-controlled Senate breaks with Trump on Saudi vote MORE (D-Calif.), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) — said in a statement.

“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 EshooHillicon Valley: Court rejects Chelsea Manning appeal | Facebook hires lawyer who helped write Patriot Act | Senator seeks details on Russian interference in Florida | Amazon hiring alcohol lobbyist | Ex-Obama aide lobbying for Sprint, T-Mobile merger Former Obama aide lobbying for T-Mobile-Sprint merger T-Mobile merger poses more questions than answers 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.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), for instance, quickly announced that he’ll oppose the package. And Rep. Pete KingPeter (Pete) Thomas KingThirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster bill House bill seeks to bolster security for synagogues, mosques in wake of attacks Tax Foundation: Bill to roll back SALT deduction cap would cost 3B 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.”