President Donald Trump and Republicans released a long-awaited tax blueprint Wednesday, but lawmakers face a complicated, daunting path to getting any legislation enacted.
First, both chambers need to adopt a budget resolution to unlock the fast-track mechanism to pass a tax bill in the Senate with only 50 votes. Then each chamber will write its own version of an eventual tax bill.
That means settling the complicated details omitted from the blueprint. While the framework provides some details, such as a 20 percent corporate rate, it leaves most of the difficult questions up to the committees to answer. For example, the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees will be responsible for deciding whether to create a top individual income tax rate above 35 percent, and which itemized deductions to eliminate.
Their eventual bills are almost certain to diverge in many places on significant issues. Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, has been clear that his panel won’t just be a “rubber stamp” for the plan.
If Republicans can muster 218 votes in the House and 50 in the Senate on their tax bills, then they’ll have to negotiate a unified version.
The GOP will also have to make sure that Trump is on board with the final product. The president promised big tax cuts in his campaign, while some Republicans have issued warnings about not adding significantly to the deficit.
In a sign of the challenges ahead to reach the goal of enacting a tax overhaul by the end of the year, Hatch said Sept. 15, “It’s much harder than health care.” The GOP spent eight months trying to repeal Obamacare, only to abandon their efforts earlier this week.