Freedom Caucus Chairman Predicts Tax Bill Will Pass

Freedom Caucus Chairman Predicts Tax Bill Will Pass.

by Lindsey McPherson · November 14, 2017
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows on Monday predicted the Republican tax bill will pass the House this week, saying several members of his caucus appear willing to support the bill to keep the process moving.

“I think most of our members are a ‘Lean yes,’ some are undecided,” the North Carolina Republican said. “But all of that is with the caveat that there is still much work that needs to be done before there’s support for a final bill. So if this bill were to come up for a final vote on the floor, there wouldn’t be as many yeses as there are right now.”

Members of the hard-line conservative group who remain undecided include Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan, Mo Brooks of Alabama and Andy Biggs of Arizona.

“I think the corporate side is stuff that I can live with. The individual side, there’s too many people that do not get tax cuts,” Biggs said. “And that’s my biggest problem. And there are ways to get at that. And I’m hoping that leadership will respond to my request for that.”

While some of the Freedom Caucus’ concerns were addressed in changes already made to the bill, others still remain. Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady told reporters he wasn’t expecting major changes to the bill before it reaches the House floor, so the remaining opportunity for House members’ requests to be incorporated would come in a conference committee.

“Some of the private conversations have indicated a greater willingness to look at changing it in conference,” Meadows said. “And ultimately, the reason why we believe that … is we have enough votes to make sure it doesn’t pass on final passage if they’re not addressed.”

Earlier this year, before the House tax bill or even the “unified” GOP framework was released, the caucus drew six red lines on things they wanted to see in a tax bill. Those included a corporate tax rate of no more than 25 percent, a small-business rate of no more than 25 percent, a bifurcated repatriation rate with cash assets being taxed around 10 percent and noncash assets at a lower rate, doubling of the standard deduction and a repeal of the estate tax.

“We have six lines that were our official six lines,” Meadows said Monday. “Some of those are are being infringed upon. They’re not being ignored, but they’re being infringed upon at this point.”

While he didn’t specify, Meadows has previously expressed concern that not enough small businesses would benefit from the reduced 25 percent rate and was surprised at the 12 percent repatriation rate for cash in the House bill that was raised to 14 percent in committee.

The Freedom Caucus has also been pushing for repeal of the health care law’s individual mandate to be added to the tax bill as a way to offset some of the changes they’re seeking.

While Meadows said he believes it has “zero chance” of being included in the House bill, caucus members remain hopeful it will be added before final passage. That’s not a demand of the group, but “every single member supports its inclusion,” he said.

Despite his optimism about possible changes to come in conference, Meadows was a bit sour on the process to date.

“It is a bit concerning that we’ve had six people working on a Senate and House version that was in lock step with the White House over the last nine months to be no closer than we are today,” he said, referring to the so-called Big Six negotiators.

Members of the Big Six include Brady, Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn.

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