Senator Bob Corker wrote to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch asking for an “explanation” of how a provision on pass-through businesses that would benefit real estate investors came to be included in the final version of the Republican tax bill.
The change would give real estate businesses a hefty tax break, and could potentially benefit people like Corker, who has commercial property holdings in his home state of Tennessee, as well as President Donald Trump and his family.
The provision wasn’t present in the Senate version of the tax plan, but appeared in the bill assembled last week by a conference of lawmakers from both chambers of Congress, and released late on Dec. 15.
Corker said he received a call Saturday from a reporter asking about the provision. “The suggestion was that it was airdropped into the conference without prior consideration by either the House or Senate,” Corker said in the letter.
“My understanding from talking to leadership staff today is that a version of this provision was always in the House bill—from the Ways & Means markup, through House floor consideration—and in reconciling the divergent House and Senate approaches to pass-through businesses this House approach stayed in the final conferenced version,” Corker wrote.
“Because this issue has raised concerns, I would ask that you provide an explanation of the evolution of this provision and how it made it into the final conference report,” Corker wrote to Hatch.
Hatch responded in a letter to Corker Monday that the change resulted after “the House secured a version of their proposal that was consistent with the overall structure of the compromise.” He also said any assertion that Corker had sought the change—or that it was included to benefit real estate developers—was “categorically false.” Hatch added he was “disgusted by press reports” that he said had distorted the provision.
Corker, who has said he will not run for re-election to the Senate in 2018, isn’t a member of the chamber’s tax-writing panel and wasn’t part of the conference committee. He requested no specific provisions throughout the tax debate, his office said in a release that accompanied the letter to Hatch.
Corker voted against the Senate version of the legislation. He has indicated he will support the bill that emerged from the conference.