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Key GOP chairman: Corker had no role in change to tax bill

Key GOP chairman: Corker had no role in change to tax bill
© Greg Nash

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee on Monday shot down reports that a tax break for real estate developers was "airdropped" into the final GOP tax bill and that Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSenators return to Washington intent on action against Saudis Paul Ryan shares video of Mitt Romney dropping by in Washington Senate GOP readies for leadership reshuffle MORE (R-Tenn.) had pushed for it.

"Both assertions are categorically false," Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchCongress braces for high-drama lame duck Trump to award Medal of Freedom to Babe Ruth, Elvis, Scalia, Hatch How much power do states have? Supreme Court holds the answer MORE (R-Utah) said in a letter to Corker.

Hatch's letter comes after a request from Corker on Sunday to get more information about how a provision relating to pass-through businesses ended up in the final tax legislation. The provision in question allows capital-intensive pass-through businesses to receive more tax relief.

The International Business Times reported that the provision would benefit those with real estate investments such as Corker and President TrumpDonald John TrumpMeet the lawyer Democrats call when it's recount time Avenatti denies domestic violence allegations: 'I have never struck a woman' Trump names handbag designer as ambassador to South Africa MORE. Liberals quickly labeled the provision the "Corker kickback" on social media and suggested the provision was inserted specifically to win the senator's vote.

Corker voted "no" on the Senate's original tax bill earlier this month, which did not include the provision, but said Friday that he would vote for the final measure, which is coming up for a vote this week.

Hatch said he is "disgusted" by press reports that have "distorted" how the provision originated.

He said Republicans have been working for more than a year to provide tax relief for pass-throughs and that the provision in question was derived from part of the House's tax bill.

"It takes a great deal of imagination — and likely no small amount of partisanship — to argue that a provision that has been public for over a month, debated on the floor of the House of Representatives, included in a House-passed bill, and identified by [the Joint Committee on Taxation] as an issue requiring a compromise between conferees is somehow a covert and last-minute addition to the conference report," he said.

Hatch also said he's unaware of Corker's office contacting the conference committee about the provision.

"To the contrary, virtually all the concerns you had raised in the past about the treatment of pass-through businesses in tax reform were to voice skepticism about the generosity of various proposals under consideration," he said.