Brady: Odds 'Very Good' for Tax Reform by Year's End

Brady: Odds 'Very Good' for Tax Reform by Year's End
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Rep. Kevin Brady, the chairman of the tax writing committee in the House, said Tuesday the odds are "very good" Congress will send tax legislation to President Trump's desk by the end of the year, but he declined to address details of the package ahead of a final vote this week on the budget.

Brady, at an event hosted by RealClearPolitics, said he will announce a timeline for the release and mark-up of the GOP’s tax legislation after the House passes the Senate's version of the Fiscal 2018 budget, which is expected to happen Thursday. 

"I have one date: 2017," Brady said when asked to predict timing of passing the tax bill. "I think the odds are very good we get to the president’s desk by the end of the year.” 

As he has done throughout the tax reform process, Brady declined to address specifics of the plan, saying he did not want to "get ahead" of the Ways and Means Committee, which he chairs. Though the proposal released by the House, Senate and White House earlier this year set three tax brackets at 12, 25 and 35 percent, he declined to address at what income levels those brackets would begin. Speaker Paul Ryan said last week there would likely be another tax bracket for the wealthiest Americans, and Brady said the committee is looking at adding a top bracket -- the current highest is 39.6 percent -- but wouldn't address specifics. 

Brady also didn't address the details for several of the more controversial aspects of the tax package, including the elimination of the deduction for state and local taxes, a concern for lawmakers from both parties in high-tax states. Brady met with some of those lawmakers earlier this month, and said Tuesday he expects a solution to their concerns. 

"My belief is that for those families, when you lower the tax rates, when we increase the child tax credit, when we set those brackets, altogether we can lower their overall burden without having that specific deduction," Brady said. Lawmakers are considering capping use of the deduction of state and local taxes for the highest earners, Bloomberg News reported earlier this month.

"I'm confident over the next 10 days that we're going to find some solutions," Brady said. 

He also said that though Republicans are using the reconciliation process to pass their tax legislation -- which allows them to bypass a filibuster in the Senate -- that doesn't "preclude" Democrats supporting the measure. But Rep. Suzan DelBene, a Democrat from Washington state, said at the RCP event that true bipartisan engagement amounts to more than Republicans asking Democrats to vote for their package or make small changes to it.

"Tax reform is something that I think both sides agree is an important topic that needs to happen," said DelBene, who sits on Brady's committee. "I think there are areas that could be in agreement if we were actually sitting at the table and talking. When I say sitting at the table -- and I had this conversation with the chairman too -- it's not 'Give me a list of a couple things you want and we'll put it in the bill.' It's 'What is the overall package?'"

James Arkin is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JamesArkin.

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