Final tax bill vote in House won’t come next week, GOP leader says

The House will not vote next week on a final agreement to rewrite the tax code, though House and Senate negotiators are expected to work through the weekend.

“It will not come up next week, but if it could, I would bring it up as soon as we come out of conference, because I do believe the American people are waiting for a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told colleagues late Thursday in remarks on the House floor.

His comments come as lawmakers work behind closed doors on a compromise tax plan that they can send to President Donald Trump to sign into law. Lawmakers have provided little guidance as to when they might wrap up their work, beyond saying they want to finish this year.

Dec. 22 has been widely seen as the unofficial deadline in recent days, as that’s the date federal funding Continue reading “Final tax bill vote in House won’t come next week, GOP leader says”

Lobbyists push GOP in last-minute scramble to save tax breaks

Lobbyists have launched an all-out effort to save tax breaks and protect powerful industries as the Republicans’ tax overhaul lurches toward President Donald Trump’s desk.

Builders and real estate interests are pushing to save the mortgage interest deduction. Businesses are fighting to strip out a last-minute provision inserted into the Senate bill that would preserve the corporate alternative minimum tax. And a coalition of trade groups and local government leaders is urging Republicans not to cut the state and local tax deduction.

With Trump pressing Congress to send him a bill before Christmas, lobbyists must decide where they want to focus their efforts over the next week.

Some are working the senators and representatives who will make up the conference committee charged with ironing out the differences between the House and Senate bill. Others are working to persuade Republican leaders or leaning on the members of Congress whose constituents may Continue reading “Lobbyists push GOP in last-minute scramble to save tax breaks”

House conservatives almost topple tax vote

House conservatives threatened to derail a key tax vote on Monday in an attempt to win more influence over the GOP’s spending strategy, just four days before the deadline to fund the government.

In a dramatic political stunt, more than a dozen members of the House Freedom Caucus withheld their support for a crucial procedural vote on the GOP’s tax bill, threatening an embarrassing blow to GOP leadership.

The conservatives eventually relented, approving what had been thought to be a formality — a motion to appoint negotiators to hammer out a final tax bill with the Senate.

But the frenzy on the House floor underscored the divisions within the GOP over a spending strategy this month, and that the Republicans’ march toward overhauling the tax code — which has proceeded with relatively little drama so far — could get caught up in the process.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Continue reading “House conservatives almost topple tax vote”

First Republican senator breaks with GOP on tax bill

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said Wednesday that he does not support the current version of the Senate GOP’s tax bill — becoming the first Republican senator to outright oppose the party’s plan to overhaul the tax system.

Johnson, a not-unfamiliar headache for GOP leaders, told the Wall Street Journal that he is unhappy with how the legislation treats so-called pass-throughs — business owners who pay taxes on their companies through the individual side of the tax code.

The senator, who co-founded a small manufacturing business before getting into politics, told the publication that he believes the Republican plan benefits corporations — which will see their tax rates drop from 35 percent to 20 percent under the proposal – over pass-throughs.

“I have no problems in making all American businesses competitive globally,” Johnson told the Journal. “This isn’t anti-big corporation at all. When you’re going to do a tax reform, Continue reading “First Republican senator breaks with GOP on tax bill”

Top House tax writer says GOP is fighting the ‘ferocity of the status quo’

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) Friday defended his choices to eliminate or trim numerous popular deductions in tax reform, an early flashpoint in the legislation GOP leaders rolled out on Thursday.

“The call is this: Do we want a tax code that may have special provisions that you may use once in your life,” or simpler deductions to use on an annual basis in addition to tax cuts, Brady said in a POLITICO Playbook interview.

Brady also acknowledged that wealthy Americans may pay more than the top 39.6 percent tax rate Republicans have advertised. POLITICO reported Thursday that a proposed surcharge on taxpayers who earn more than $1 million in taxable income would push them into a 45.6 percent tax bracket.

The 429-page tax bill includes deep tax cuts for corporations, small businesses and individuals. But to cover the cost of those cuts, tax writers Continue reading “Top House tax writer says GOP is fighting the ‘ferocity of the status quo’”

Utah Republican fuels speculation Hatch will retire

A Utah Republican added fuel to speculation that Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) will retire and former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney may run for the seat.

While on their way to the House floor, Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) told another House Republican she expected Hatch, 83, to retire in 2018 at the end of his current term. Love said she would not run for Hatch’s seat. The exchange took place in front of a POLITICO reporter.

"No, but Hatch isn’t sticking around,” Love said when asked whether she would run for the Senate if Hatch step down. “We’re trying to get Mitt," Love added, referring to Romney.

Whether Hatch will run for reelection is an open question right now. First elected in 1976, Hatch is one of the longest-serving senators in history. He’s chairman of the Finance Committee – the most powerful panel in the Senate – Continue reading “Utah Republican fuels speculation Hatch will retire”

Puerto Rico’s governor calls for cancellation of controversial contract

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló called for the cancellation of an electrical repair contract that has stirred controversy around the hurricane-stricken island’s recovery.

In a news conference Sunday, Rosselló urged the immediate end of an agreement between the commonwealth’s electric utility, PREPA, and Whitefish Energy, a two-year-old Montana-based company whose selection for a no-bid contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars has drawn intense political scrutiny.

In a release, Rosselló said the decision was “intended to reaffirm our commitment to transparency in the contracting process in the government of Puerto Rico and to achieve the highest degree of efficiency possible in the restoration of the power grid of our island, in the shortest amount of time possible.”

During Sunday’s news conference, Rosselló also criticized the federal government for a delay in sending brigades from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"The goals I established are aimed at achieving Continue reading “Puerto Rico’s governor calls for cancellation of controversial contract”