GOP chairman shoots down Democrat effort to delay tax work until Jones is seated

Democrats on Wednesday sought to postpone the House-Senate tax reform conference until after Sen.-elect Doug Jones (D-Ala.) is seated, but their effort was shot down.

Toward the start of the conference committee's open meeting on Wednesday, Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealDems walk Trump trade tightrope On The Money: Treasury rejects Dem subpoena for Trump tax returns | Companies warn trade war about to hit consumers | Congress, White House to launch budget talks next week | Trump gets deal to lift steel tariffs on Mexico, Canada READ: Mnuchin refuses to provide Trump's tax returns MORE (D-Mass.) offered a motion to delay conference work until after Jones takes office. 

The conference is reconciling the House and Senate versions of Republican-pushed tax-reform legislation.

“It’s imperative that we respect the will of the people of Alabama," said Neal, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee. He noted that Democrats stopped work on ObamaCare while they waited for Scott Brown (R-Mass.) to be seated after winning a special election for a Senate seat in 2010.

But Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyHouse to vote on retirement bill next week House chairman issues subpoenas for Trump's tax returns Top Republican urges Dem chairman to drop Trump tax returns effort MORE (R-Texas) on Wednesday said Neal's motion was "not available."

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Neal and other Democrats, such as his fellow Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenButtigieg jokes about holding town hall same night as 'Game of Thrones' finale Buttigieg defends appearing on Fox News: Many Americans don't hear Dems' message Warren offers to help Twitter user with her love life MORE, spent Wednesday pushing for work on tax legislation to stop until Jones takes office.

Jones, a former federal prosecutor, on Tuesday defeated Republican candidate Roy Moore to become the first Democrat elected to the Senate from Alabama in decades. Once Jones is seated, Republicans' majority in the Senate will shrink to 51-49.

Jones is not expected to be seated until after the election results are certified later this month or in early January. But Republicans are pushing to send tax legislation to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons' Rocket attack hits Baghdad's Green Zone amid escalating tensions: reports Buttigieg on Trump tweets: 'I don't care' MORE's desk next week. News broke Wednesday that GOP lawmakers reached an agreement in principle on the final tax bill on Wednesday.

News of the deal broke before the public conference committee meeting, leading Democrats to argue that the meeting was just for show.

“What’s happening today is a sham,” said Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOregon man sentenced after threatening to chop off Dem senator's tongue House to vote on retirement bill next week Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order to protect US networks from Chinese tech | Huawei downplays order | Trump declines to join effort against online extremism | Facebook restricts livestreaming | FCC proposes new tool against robocalls MORE (D-Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.

“This is indeed a mockery,” said Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.). 

Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowDems want climate change, tax hikes in infrastructure deal Critics accuse EPA of weakening pollution rule for Pentagon Democratic proposals to overhaul health care: A 2020 primer MORE (D-Mich.) asked when Democrats would be able to look at the agreement.

Brady said that he expects the conference report to be filed by the end of the week, and that lawmakers and the public would be able to examine it once it's finalized.