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 Neal (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 Brady (R-Texas) on Wednesday said Neal’s motion was “not available.”
Neal and other Democrats, such as his fellow Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 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 Trump’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 Wyden (D-Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.
“This is indeed a mockery,” said Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.).
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (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.