The White House and top congressional Republicans want to push for a House vote on a second round of tax cuts ahead of the midterms in hopes of bolstering their economic pitch to voters – but they’re running into opposition within their own party.
GOP leaders conceived of the second tax bill as a messaging win that would put Democrats on their heels ahead of the midterms, forcing them to vote against tax relief for the middle class. But the concerns over the bill are largely flowing from the Republican side, mainly from members fighting to keep hold of seats in suburban districts where President Donald Trump is most unpopular – and that are key to the GOP’s hopes of keeping their majority.
A dozen House Republicans, all but one of them from the high-tax states of California, New Jersey and New York, voted against the tax law in December because it capped state and local tax deductions, which they said would lead to tax increases on too many of their constituents.
Some of those GOP lawmakers have openly said they would prefer to leave the tax issue alone as Congress also grapples with how to fund the government and the House potentially votes on health care measures that might be more politically beneficial to vulnerable incumbents. “If we were to pass that here in the House, it would be an exercise in futility, because it could never pass in the Senate,” Rep. Leonard Lance of New Jersey, who opposed the first bill, said Friday on CNBC.
Top House leaders will unveil the second tax overhaul bill this week. Drafted by House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the bill proposes to make permanent individual tax rate cuts from the Republicans’ first tax bill, while introducing new measures intended to help families save money, especially for retirement, and to spur innovation for businesses.
House leaders and White House officials hope it can at least pass through that chamber before the election. The Senate is not expected to take up the bill in 2018 given the focus on speeding through judicial nominations and a Supreme Court confirmation — and because Majority Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) simply does not have the votes to pass a second tax bill.
Republican leaders “certainly directed us from the get-go to be ready to move this in September,” Brady told reporters last week. “It’s full steam ahead.”