Amid signs of internal GOP discord over some of the details, Republicans on Tuesday evening struggled to put the finishing touches on what would be the first major tax reform package since 1986, as key lawmakers decided to delay – at least for one day – the release of the tax bill’s fine print, forcing businesses big and small, lawmakers, individuals, and lobbyists to keep waiting to see the text of a plan that’s been closely guarded by the GOP for months.
“In consultation with President Trump and our leadership team, we have decided to release the bill text on Thursday,” Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said, adding that House work on the tax bill remains “on schedule.”
“There’s a reason we haven’t reformed the tax code since 1986,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, said earlier in the day. “It takes real guts.”
But instead of rolling out the bill on Wednesday morning at a meeting of House Republicans, details were still being hammered out Tuesday night, with much of the internal GOP dissent again focused on the question of how to deal with the state and local tax deduction, which top Republicans want to eliminate.
The delay came a few hours after President Trump had again made clear on Tuesday that he wants fast action in Congress on tax reform, saying the tax bill should be finished by the Congress in just over seven weeks.
“It will be a big event,” Mr. Trump said. “It will be the biggest tax event in the history of our country.”
“I want the House to pass a bill by Thanksgiving,” the President said with business leaders at his side in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.
“I want all of the people standing by my side when we get ready to sign by Christmas,” he added.
But that type of very aggressive timeline would be much different than what Congress was able to do in the last major tax reform law, enacted in 1986.
That effort – which was strongly bipartisan – spanned 13 months from the introduction of the House bill in September 1985, until it was signed into law by President Reagan in October 1986.
While Mr. Trump again urged Democrats to support his bill, few have signaled their willingness to do that, as they wait for the details – along with almost everyone else on Capitol Hill.
While most business groups are on board, but there was one unsettling sign for the GOP in recent days as the National Association of Home Builders vowed to oppose the bill, because of how it would deal with the ability to write off mortgage interest, as well as state and local taxes.
“This tax blueprint will harm home values, act as a tax on existing home owners and force many younger, aspiring home buyers out of the market,” said Granger MacDonald, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.
The group said it work against the plan, producing this tweet to make their argument.
As for Democrats, they mocked the GOP for the delay.
“With a bill so bad, it’s understandable that the GOP cannot agree amongst themselves on its final form,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX).
“These guys can’t even introduce a massive tax cut for the wealthy on time,” said Democratic strategist Jim Manley.