Transportation

GOP chairman not expecting infrastructure money in Trump’s tax plan

Keren Carrion

The Senate’s No. 3 Republican is not expecting President Trump’s tax plan to include infrastructure spending, though he cautioned that he hasn’t seen a draft of the proposal.

Politico reported Tuesday that the administration’s tax reform proposal — slated to be unveiled Wednesday — is likely to include money for infrastructure upgrades in order to garner more Democratic support.

“I don’t expect it to be in that tomorrow, but then I don’t know for sure, because I haven’t seen what they’re going to propose,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, told reporters Tuesday.

Thune has expressed support for coupling infrastructure investment with tax reform in the past.

{mosads}But he told reporters Tuesday that the strategy of attracting Democrats with infrastructure investment might not work in this case, with Thune predicting that there wouldn’t be many lawmakers on the other side of the aisle willing to support the administration’s effort to cut business and corporate tax rates.

“Doing infrastructure in a tax reform bill would be largely, I believe, designed to attract Democrats to get on board,” Thune said. “And I just don’t know if there are going to be any Democrats that are available for support of a tax reform bill. We’ll see.”

Thune added that “pure” tax reform could be done through reconciliation, a budget process that only requires a simple majority to pass the Senate, in which case it “probably is going to end up … a Republican-only exercise.”

Trump has been floating the idea of linking tax reform and infrastructure, telling The New York Times recently that it might make sense to pair the two issues together because infrastructure is “so popular” with members of Congress.

White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said last week that Trump’s tax plan may involve using some tax revenue from businesses bringing foreign earnings back into the U.S. for infrastructure.

But the concept of linking tax reform and infrastructure has divided conservatives.

Four economic advisers to Trump’s campaign have recommended that the president focus on a business tax cut bill this year that also includes funds for infrastructure in an effort to appeal to Democrats. 

But other prominent conservatives, including Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, have warned that tying infrastructure and taxes together could make tax reform less pro-growth.

“For us, the ultimate objective with tax reform is to create growth in the economy,” Thune said. “So we’re looking for pro-growth policies.”

Tags John Thune

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