Republican tax code revamp hits House
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[June 28, 2017]
By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican efforts
to overhaul the U.S. tax code have hit a snag in the House of
Representatives, where infighting over spending cuts is delaying
adoption of a legislative tool they need to move a tax bill forward.
The House Budget Committee canceled plans to send a budget resolution
for fiscal 2018 to the floor this week, lawmakers said on Tuesday, as
conservative Republicans pushed to add hundreds of billions of dollars
in mandatory spending cuts to the blueprint.
House and Senate passage of a budget resolution is vital to President
Donald Trump's pledge to deliver on tax reform this year because the
document would free Republicans to circumvent Democratic opposition in
the Senate. But the push to cut programs including Medicaid and food
stamps, which benefit the poor, could lead to a stalemate.
Trump administration officials and Republican leaders in Congress are
working separately to agree on a tax bill that can be unveiled in
"No budget, no tax reform," said Representative Mark Walker, who chairs
the Republican Study Committee, a group of more than 150 conservative
lawmakers. "That's why there should be a sense of urgency to get this
done pretty quick."
Their aim is to cut mandatory programs that are required by law and
viewed as principle drivers of deficit spending. The result could be
legislation containing lower taxes for the wealthy and corporations
alongside reduced benefits for the poor.
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Lawmakers say there is Republican agreement on topline discretionary
spending levels of $621.5 billion for defense and $511 billion for
Representative Jim Jordan, a leading member of the conservative
House Freedom Caucus, is pushing to cut as much as $400 billion over
a decade from a range of programs that benefit the poor. Freedom
Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said he wanted another $295 billion in
cuts on top of that.
"It has to be linked to tax reform, because we believe tax reform is
going to happen," Jordan said in an interview.
The budget committee canceled its plans this week after the chairmen
of several other panels pushed back against efforts to include $250
billion in spending cuts.
"The end game is to get a budget out of the committee," House Budget
Committee Chairwoman Diane Black told reporters. "I do see a viable
path. And I am going to continue to push."
(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Andrew Hay)
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