Republicans are on the brink of passing the most extensive rewrite of the U.S. tax code in more than 30 years—but it’s not yet clear when President Donald Trump will actually sign the bill.
The House is likely to vote (for a second time) on the tax legislation around noon on Wednesday, and the White House said a “bill passage event” with House and Senate members is scheduled for 3 p.m. But the gathering won’t be a signing event, which will happen at a “later date,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in an emailed statement.
The Senate approved the bill—which delivers a deep, permanent tax cut for corporations and shorter-term relief for individuals—just before 12:45 a.m. Wednesday in Washington.
While Trump has promised everyday Americans a “giant tax cut for Christmas,” his top economic adviser said Wednesday that a technical issue could push the bill signing to after Jan. 1.
White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said Trump would sign the bill this year if Congress is able to pass a separate provision waiving automatic spending cuts as part of a year-end spending deal to avoid a government shutdown before Friday. If not, Trump would sign the bill in early 2018, he said.
Under the so-called PAYGO law, automatic cuts to Medicare and other spending categories would be triggered by the tax bill in January because the bill is scored as increasing the deficit by $1.5 trillion over ten years. Waiting until January means that those cuts would be delayed until 2019, according to budget expert Ed Lorenzen of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan have vowed that the cuts would not be triggered. They will need Democrats to waive them this year, however, since doing so would require 60 votes in the Senate. Nearly the entire House Democratic caucus last week threatened to block a PAYGO waiver unless Republicans made concessions like restoring the Obamacare individual mandate.