GOP predicts few defections on tax vote

A day after rolling out their tax-reform bill, House Republicans on Friday appeared bullish they would soon pass the first overhaul of the U.S. tax system in more than three decades.

“It’s a layup,” Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerGOP lawmaker wants to ban private email servers like Clinton’s Opportunity knocks for a free-market agriculture policy DOT chief visits site of ND train crash to discuss rail safety MORE (R-N.D.), a President Trump ally who may run for Senate in 2018, told The Hill.

“I think at the end of the day, we’re not going to lose very many members,” said Rep. Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeRepublican’s decision to retire seen as sign of growing frustration in Washington Senior House Republican resigns GOP backs new fund for public health MORE (R-Okla.), who is close to House GOP leadership.


Even members of the GOP caucus who often are at odds with leadership were pleased with the bill.

“Leadership did a great job on this thing,” said Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), a member of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus. “It’s pro-growth, there’s middle-class tax cuts for real.”

House Republicans unveiled their tax-code rewrite bill on Thursday to much fanfare. The bill, which totals more than 400 pages, cuts rates and eliminates tax breaks on both the individual and business sides of the code.

According to The Hill’s initial look at lawmakers’ positions, the only House GOP members who appear to be likely no votes as of now are some of the Republicans from high-tax states who dislike the bill’s treatment of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction.

Under the bill, taxpayers would no longer be able to deduct their state and local income and sales taxes and would only be able to deduct up to $10,000 of their property taxes.

“There is much to like in the legislation but the proposed cap on deductibility of state and local taxes makes the bill unacceptable at this time,” Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) said in a statement on Thursday.

Another three Republicans come out against the bill on Thursday: Reps. Pete KingPeter (Pete) Thomas KingGOP rep: Georgia win proves Trump doesn’t need to tweet his agenda Republican: Cruz ‘disgusting,’ ‘hypocritical’ on New York values Bill would restore commuter tax credit MORE (N.Y.), Lee Zeldin (N.Y.) and Frank LoBiondo (N.J.).

Still, many Republicans feeling the heat on SALT look likely to be yes votes.

Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Calif.), a Democratic target in the midterms, told The Hill that she will vote for the bill, as will Rep. Andy HarrisAndrew (Andy) Peter HarrisGOP lawmaker urges schools to ignore Obama bathroom directive The strange case of the winking congressman DC voters legalize marijuana MORE (R-Md.), whose high-tax state will be hit hard by the changes to SALT and the mortgage interest deductions.

“I firmly support it. There is no doubt in my mind,” Harris told The Hill. “We need this stimulation for our job creators and small, family-owned businesses. We need middle-class tax cuts, and that’s what we’re going to get.”

Some Republicans who voted against the House’s ObamaCare repeal bill also say they support the tax bill.

“I am going to vote for this. This is a new experience for me to be excited about a bill,” Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) told CNN.

While Republicans are broadly positive about the bill now, more lawmakers could end up speaking out against the bill as time goes by.

Lobbyists in industries that are losers in the bill, such as the housing industry, are expected to vigorously push back against the legislation while also hoping that changes will be made to ease their concerns.

Besides the SALT deduction, GOP lawmakers have raised concerns about various provisions in the bill or have suggested changes.

Provisions drawing some worries include the elimination of the adoption tax credit, the limits on businesses’ ability to deduct their interest expenses and the limits on the use of the new lower rate for pass-through businesses whose income is currently taxed through the individual code.

But lawmakers are also largely singing the praises of the overall features of the bill and seem hopeful that they can make their desired changes.

“There are probably some things dealing with both interest deductibility, maybe the adoption tax credit, things of that nature, that we’re still trying to navigate through, but right now we’re just really pulling together the details. The feedback has been positive and this is a historic time,” said Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.). She added that she thinks the bill will be a “big winner.”

The House Ways and Means Committee will begin its markup of the bill on Monday. Lawmakers will be able to make changes to the bill during the markup and before the bill comes to the House floor. However, Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyUS wins trade case over ‘dolphin safe’ tuna labeling Overnight Finance: House adopts Senate budget, taking step to tax reform | GOP worries Trump feuds will endanger tax plan | Trump talks NAFTA withdrawal with senators | Treasury calls for looser oversight of insurers The Hill’s 12:30 Report MORE (R-Texas) said he doesn’t expect that amendments will be allowed on the floor.

Senate Republicans are expected to release their own bill in the near future. If both the House and Senate bills pass, they would be reconciled in a conference committee.

House Republicans were able to pass legislation repealing ObamaCare earlier this year, while the Senate was not. As a result, some House GOP lawmakers are worried that the Senate will face similar challenges on taxes.

But Republicans also have long wanted to overhaul the tax code and are eager to produce a major legislative accomplishment ahead of the midterm elections.

“[Senators] can’t afford to fumble twice on the one-yard line,” said Cole.

Republicans adopted a budget resolution last month that allows them to pass tax legislation on a party-line vote. Their bill is likely to receive few if any votes from Democrats, who generally have been blasting the measure as a tax cut for the rich.

The GOP is trying to blunt that criticism and argue that the middle class would come out ahead.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is currently working on an online tool that would allow Americans to calculate their tax bill to see how much they would pay or save under the new GOP plan. Republicans who huddled on the tax bill Thursday night asked leadership how soon the tool would be available, since they’ve been getting lots of inquiries from constituents, said Walters, who is the sophomore class liaison to leadership.

“That is a tool that is going to help people” understand the tax plan better, Walters said.

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