Today on the Hill: Tax Reform Faces Budget Committee Test; Trump to Talk Tax Reform, Gov’t Funding with Congressional Leaders

The Senate’s route to considering tax reform legislation this week has become clearer over the past 24 hours, but its ultimate outcome still hangs in the balance. The Senate Budget Committee is scheduled to consider the bill this afternoon, which will be a crucial test given that two Republicans who have expressed reservations on the bill — Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Bob Corker (R-TN) — sit on the committee and could prevent the legislation from moving forward if they vote against it. Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said yesterday that “we’re gonna make them happy,” but did not go into detail on the changes that are being considered. Deficit hawks, such as Sen. Corker, have been discussing a so-called ‘trigger-mechanism’ that would raise tax rates if economic growth is lower than anticipated and leads to larger deficits, while Sen. Johnson is hoping for more favorable provisions for pass-through businesses. Should the bill secure their votes today in the Budget Committee, it will set up Senate floor consideration beginning tomorrow.

President Trump will also wade into the legislative process today by visiting the Senate in an effort to lobby Republican holdouts to vote in favor of the tax reform proposal. Later in the day, the President is due to meet the ‘Big Four’ group of congressional leaders — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) — at the White House to discuss a path forward on government funding, which expires on Dec. 8. Democrats are reportedly seeking concessions on the deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) program and a potential fix for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but the President tweeted this morning that “I don’t see a deal!”  

The House returns today with votes on six suspension bills scheduled for this evening. Among those bills are a handful of land exchange and national landmark designations, as well as a bill (H.R. 2228) that aims to provide additional mental health resources to law enforcement officials. The lower chamber finished their work on tax reform before the Thanksgiving break and will be waiting to go to conference with the Senate should they approve their tax reform bill this week. A full list of the bills up for consideration in the House today is available here.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is clearing the Senate’s floor schedule to prepare for consideration of the tax reform package. Only one vote is scheduled today, a final confirmation vote on the nomination of Gregory Katsas to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the D.C. Circuit.