House Republicans delay release of tax bill amid late disputes

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The House Ways and Means Committee postponed its planned release of a tax bill by one day, moving the release to Thursday amid unresolved questions about the timing of a corporate tax rate cut and other proposals.

While Chairman Kevin Brady said committee members were “pleased with the progress” they’ve made, the one-day delay reflects the challenge of crafting—and then passing—a complex bill by the Thanksgiving deadline that House Speaker Paul Ryan has imposed.

“A lot of work remains with the drafters and they will continue to work through the night,” Brady said, after meeting with his committee for about two hours Tuesday evening.

Unresolved questions center on the corporate tax rate, which Republicans and President Donald Trump want to cut to 20 percent from the current 35 percent. The committee must decide whether to propose an immediate cut—or to phase it in over time. While House leaders prefer the immediate option, they haven’t yet committed to it.

Disagreement among Republicans on whether to repeal individual federal tax breaks for state and local income taxes and sales taxes also persists—as does discussion over the proposed repeal of the estate tax.

The White House sought to shrug off the delay from earlier plans to unveil the measure on Wednesday. “The President looks forward to seeing legislation this week that will deliver tax cuts and reform to the middle class. We’re confident this won’t affect the ultimate timing of the bill,” spokeswoman Natalie Strom said.

And Trump himself said on Twitter: “The Republican House members are working hard (and late) toward the Massive Tax Cuts that they know you deserve. These will be biggest ever!”

Lawmakers on the Ways and Means Committee have held hours-long meetings over the past two days to work through details. Some members are disgruntled that they haven’t been brought into the fold on details earlier, and some fear having to take a tough vote on a bill that will ultimately be overhauled in the more moderate Senate.

Bloomberg News