Legislation

House GOP pushes off final consideration of end-of-year tax package

House Republican leaders have pushed off a floor vote on an end-of-year tax package as lawmakers work to round up votes among their members.

The delay puts the package, which was announced Monday, in jeopardy of stalling out before it gets off the ground. Lawmakers are in a time crunch and have to deal with a number of other priorities before heading home for the holidays, including must-pass spending bills and a farm bill package.

The package cleared an initial procedural hurdle in the House Thursday, and a more extensive debate had been tentatively scheduled for Friday morning. But a House vote on the full package now will have to wait until at least next week.

GOP leaders and members have been occupied with meetings to dole out committee and leadership assignments in the past few days, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady said Friday.

“We haven’t had as much time to focus on” this, the Texas Republican said. “We’ll work through the weekend and get a lay of the land for next week.”

The measure would extend tax breaks for a number of temporary provisions, known as extenders, that are routinely renewed. It also includes tax relief for victims of recent natural disasters and makes minor fixes to the Republican tax-cut law.

It contains elements of the GOP’s “Tax Reform 2.0” that passed the House this year, including items aimed at boosting retirement savings, overhauling the IRS and providing benefits to small businesses.

The Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated that the package would cost about $54 billion over 10 years.

Mr. Brady also added language to try to wind down new taxes on fringe benefits that charities, churches and other nonprofit groups provide their employees, including items such as parking.

Democrats said they could theoretically support some parts of the package but added the GOP was trying to ram through another tax plan with little debate before lawmakers split town for the week.

“This legislation goes beyond a traditional tax extenders deal,” said Rep. James McGovern, Massachusetts Democrat. “It is a vehicle for the majority to rush in fixes to their disastrous tax scam.”

The legislation already was facing a tough slog in the more evenly divided Senate, where it would need support from some Democrats to pass.


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