Biz groups worried about tax reform urge Congress to act

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Four leading business groups on Wednesday urged the GOP Congress to press forward on a budget resolution that will set the stage for tax reform even as Republicans try to save their healthcare legislation.

In a letter to congressional leaders in both parties, the business groups said they understood that healthcare would now take up even more time for the Congress, but warned that the absence of a budget resolution was threatening tax reform.

The groups also highlighted tax reform as a “historic opportunity” unmatched by other “reforms under consideration.”

“We understand that the Senate is actively considering health care legislation, but it is important that the House start the budget process now, so that reconciliation instructions will be available to move tax reform legislation expediently,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Federation of Independent Business wrote in the letter.

“In our view, given the historic opportunity before Congress, no other reforms under consideration rise to the importance of pro-growth, comprehensive tax reform,” the groups said.

The letter suggests growing anxiety in the business community as the congressional calendar slips away.

Senate Republicans had hoped to finish their work on healthcare before the July 4 recess. But on Tuesday they delayed a vote until at least after the July 4 recess because of defections from conservatives and centrists in the GOP conference.

Republicans have not moved a budget resolution for 2018, and must pass a measure keeping the government funded before the end of September. They also must pass legislation to raise the debt ceiling, probably by an October deadline.

Congress is set to be out all of August, giving them precious little time to complete the work.

Trump administration officials have suggested tax reform could be finished this year, but that looks less and less likely with all the delays. Another priority, infrastructure funding, is also on hold.  

Congressional Republicans intend to pass tax-reform legislation under a process known as “reconciliation” in order to overcome a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. They plan to include reconciliation instructions for tax reform in a budget for fiscal 2018.

The House Budget Committee has been working on a resolution, but the committee is not marking up a measure this week as had been expected because there continue to be disagreements among Republicans over spending levels.

In their letter, the business groups urged congressional leaders to reach an agreement on a tax bill and enact legislation promptly.

“Comprehensive tax reform can transform America’s underperforming economy into a high performance growth engine, creating jobs, raising wages, and strengthening the global competitiveness of America’s workers and businesses,” they said.



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