Week ahead: Congress rushes to pass tax reform, funding before holidays
Republicans are rushing to finish their massive rewrite of the tax code and pass a government funding bill before Christmas.
Senate and House Republicans struck an agreement Wednesday on a sweeping tax-cut bill that, if passed, would be the first major piece of legislation signed by President Trump.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) told reporters the bill would be released Friday at 5:30 p.m.
Senate GOP leaders plan to hold an initial procedural vote on Monday, a final Senate vote Tuesday and then send the measure to the House for final passage.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) heralded the development as something that would boost the middle class.
“We want to take more money out of Washington’s pocket and put more money into the pockets of the middle class. I’m confident the conference committee will finalize a bill that does just that,” he tweeted.
GOP leaders are looking to solidify Senate support for the bill, with two Republicans saying they can’t support the bill as written.
The final bill will increase the amount of the refundable child tax credit to $1,400, Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) told reporters Friday, as leaders seek to win the vote of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
The refundable amount was $1,100 in the Senate-passed tax bill, but Rubio on Thursday said that wasn’t good enough. He has threatened to vote against the bill unless the refundable amount of the credit is increased.
It’s unclear whether the change will be enough to satisfy him.
A spokeswoman for Rubio said Friday they had not yet seen the text of the bill, but warned that unless the percentage of the refundable credit is significantly higher, Rubio’s position would remain the same.
“Can only support bill if % of the 2K #ChildTaxCredit available to #workingclass parents is increased to % meaningfully higher than 55%,” Rubio tweeted Friday morning.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said he was undecided about the bill until he saw the increase in the refundable child tax credit. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) voted against the Senate tax bill, citing concerns about its impact on the deficit. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) voted for the initial bill, but objected to a change that decreases the tax rate for top earners.
The absence of two GOP senators is also creating uncertainty about the timing of the chamber’s vote on tax legislation.
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) have both missed recent Senate votes, and one of their votes will likely be needed to pass the bill.
Republican leadership signaled on Thursday that the exact timing of the vote, and which chamber will move first, is now being hashed out.
“I don’t know the answer to that question. It’s all about timing and managing absences in the Senate. … We’re simply being flexible to honor their concerns about managing their schedule and some possible absences,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters.
Congress is also scrambling to extend government funding before it expires on Dec. 22. House Republicans introduced legislation on Wednesday that would fund most of the government through mid-January and fund the Defense Department through the end of the 2018 fiscal year.
But Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned that proposal is dead on arrival in the Senate, where 44 of the Democratic caucus’s 48 members have indicated they won’t support it.
Democrats say any increase in defense spending should be equally matched with more funding for nondefense matters.
Congress faces a Dec. 22 deadline to fund the government and avoid a shutdown. Lawmakers also need to get a deal to lift the budget caps before mid-January if they want to avoid automatic spending cuts under sequestration.
President Trump’s nominee to lead the Export-Import Bank also appears unlikely to survive a scheduled committee vote in the coming week.
Scott Garrett, a former Republican lawmaker from New Jersey who endured a rough confirmation hearing in November, has yet to secure enough support in the Senate Banking Committee to advance his nomination.
The Senate Banking Committee is holding a hearing on Tuesday to consider Garrett’s nomination, along with four other nominees that would provide the bank with a quorum for the first time in two years.
On Tuesday, Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) said he wouldn’t make any predictions about how the vote will go.
“I’ll let the senators speak for themselves,” Crapo said.
Your week ahead:
Senate Banking Committee: Vote on Scott Garrett to be president, Kimberly Reed to be first vice president, Mark Greenblatt to be inspector general, and Spencer Bachus III, Judith Delzoppo Pryor and Claudia Slacik each to be a member of the board of directors, all of the Export-Import Bank, 10 a.m.
Recap the week with Overnight Finance:
Monday: Scorekeeper says House tax bill won’t pay for itself | Fight over Treasury’s analysis of tax plan | GOP worries about tax bill’s unpopularity | What’s ahead in year end spending fight
Tuesday: GOP eyes raising corporate rate, lowering individual rate | House to link defense spending to stopgap bill | Senate Dems play hardball on funding | House package would delay ObamaCare taxes | Dem AGs blast Mulvaney as consumer chief
Wednesday: GOP leaders strike deal on tax bill | Vote expected next week | Trump makes last pitch for tax bill | Fed hikes rates for third time this year
Thursday: Rubio to vote ‘no’ unless bill expands child tax credit | Senate absences could delay vote on tax bill | Trump touts deregulation | Labor board overrules joint-employer decision
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