Kevin Brady

A Tax Conference Committee Meeting Mostly For Show
Parameters are clear for final Republican push on tax bill

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady makes his way to a meeting in the speaker’s office in the Capitol on Dec. 6. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Nothing against the members of the House and Senate attending Wednesday’s inaugural meeting of the conference committee finalizing the tax code overhaul, but it’s mostly for show and unlikely to be must-see television.

That’s because, with the arguable exception of the farm bill, open meetings of conference committees are not where the deals get done, despite the talking points from top negotiators.

Six Things to Watch as Tax Overhaul Endgame Nears
Final votes could come just before lawmakers leave for the holidays

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady says both Senate and House tax plans have “strengths” when it comes to the treatment of income of pass-through entities. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A number of sticking points emerged last week as Republican lawmakers began jockeying for their favorite parts of the House and Senate tax plans.

Top tax writers from each chamber will formally meet Wednesday at 2 p.m. to discuss their differences, but the real negotiations have already begun behind the scenes.

Photos of the Week: Three Resignations, a CR Extension and the Holidays Kick Off
The week of Dec. 4 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

Ranking member Rep. Jerrold Nadler arrives Thursday for the House Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the FBI. Nadler became the top Democrat on the panel following Michigan Rep. John Conyers Jr.’s resignation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated at 10:08 a.m.The week on the Hill was not short on news. Michigan Rep. John Conyers Jr. resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct while Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, a fellow Democrat, announced he intended to do the same soon. Late Thursday, Republican Trent Franks from Arizona said he would resign effective Jan. 31 over sexual harassment allegations in his office.

At the same time, the funding deadline to keep the government open loomed. But a government shutdown was averted Thursday — at least for another two weeks — when both chambers passed a continuing resolution through Dec. 22. 

The Unkindest Cut: How to Pay for Tax Overhaul Sweeteners
Hundreds of billions of dollars needed to pay for sought-after changes

Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady is among the top negotiators in the House-Senate conference committee on the GOP’s tax overhaul. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As the House and Senate prepare for a conference committee on the Republican tax overhaul, the two chambers face the challenge of reconciling stark differences, and where to find billions of dollars they may need to smooth things over. 

Among the most significant discrepancies are the treatments of pass-through businesses, the estate tax and the corporate alternative minimum tax. House Republicans are also considering a provision to further scale back the proposed trimming of the state and local tax deduction.

House GOP Plans to Lobby Leaders on Key Tax Provisions
Estate tax and corporate rate addressed in letters

Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republicans are planning to pressure leaders from both chambers to maintain two key provisions in the House tax measure during conference negotiations, according to draft letters obtained by Roll Call.

The lobbying comes as the House and Senate try to bridge gaps between their two bills. While many provisions are similar, the differences in the two measures are stark and could require substantial revenue to reconcile.

Senate Agrees to Tax Bill Conference With House

Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, will be a key negotiator as the House and Senate reconcile their versions of a tax overhaul. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate voted Wednesday to officially begin conference negotiations with House members over a tax code overhaul, as Republicans race to send a finished bill to President Donald Trump’s desk before Christmas.

The 51-47 party-line vote was largely a formality. Behind-the-scenes talks have already begun since the Senate passed its version early Saturday morning, following House passage of its own bill before Thanksgiving.

Picture This: A ‘Perfecto’ Final Tax Bill
As House, Senate negotiate, president raises expectations

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, speaks with reporters about the GOP tax bill between votes in the Capitol on Nov. 30. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House and Senate are not even in formal conference negotiations on a tax overhaul measure yet, but the expectation from the White House is clear: It’s got to be “perfecto.”

On a day of increasing uncertainty over how to fund the government past Dec. 8, President Donald Trump hosted a small group of Senate Republicans at the White House and placed his marker. 

Spiking Alternative Minimum Taxes a Priority for House GOP, Brady Says
‘Both of them are very costly and they add complexity’

Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, talks with reporters after the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on November 29, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Repealing the alternative minimum tax is a priority for House Republicans in conference negotiations with Senate tax writers, Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady said.

The Texas Republican said he spoke to many House GOP members Tuesday morning who “feel strongly” about permanently repealing the AMT for corporations and individual taxpayers. The House-passed tax bill would do so, while the Senate measure would keep the current corporate AMT and expand exemptions for the individual AMT rather than repeal it.

Democratic Senators Pressure House Counterparts on Tax Overhaul
29 GOP House members represent states with no Republican senator

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic senators from Maryland, New York, California and New Jersey are pressuring their Republican counterparts in the House to reject the GOP tax bill if it comes back up for a vote in the chamber.

The group, in a letter sent Monday, highlighted provisions in both the House and Senate versions of the tax bill that would allow individuals to deduct up to $10,000 in property taxes but would otherwise repeal the popular state and local tax deduction.

As Tax Overhaul Looms, Senate Has Upper Hand
House GOP wary of Senate’s leverage given the narrow vote margin there

The Senate’s narrow margin on the tax overhaul provides it with some leverage in conference negotiations with the House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate’s passage of a tax overhaul illustrated a fragile coalition of support that ironically provides the chamber with the upper hand headed into conference committee negotiations with the House.

House Republicans wanted a conference process on the two chambers’ differing tax bills to prevent the House from getting jammed by the Senate, as they acknowledge has happened frequently on major bills.