House begins reviewing GOP’s major tax overhaul plan

Members of the House Ways and Means Committee participate in the committee's markup of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Capitol Hill Monday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Nov. 6 (UPI) — The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee on Monday began reviewing Republicans’ sweeping overhaul of the tax code, in a markup process that will will last for days on Capitol Hill this week.

The committee convened at noon Monday and Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said he expects a panel vote on the reform by Thursday.

“Four days of open, full-throated debate, with all these amendments in the tax code, I think will let the American people see something they haven’t seen in a long time, which is real debate on a real tax-reform plan,” Brady described the markup process after the 429-page Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was revealed.

The committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, wants the panel’s work to take place only during daytime hours. Brady said he wants “to do as much of this deliberation during the normal working hours” as possible, though some may go into the evening.

During a bill’s markup process, Democrats and Republicans propose amendments and raise concerns before legislation goes to the House floor — and then in a conference committee with the Senate. The Senate Committee on Finance plans to release its bill later this week.

“We expect the markup to include a series of technical corrections, a focus on more precisely tailoring the bill’s pass-through treatment, an airing of grievances regarding the removal of sacred deductions and a heap of Democratic amendments,” analyst Isaac Boltansky wrote in a note to clientsMonday.

One concern even among Republicans is proposed changes to the state and local tax deductions, or SALT. A coalition of GOP representatives from high income tax states like New Jersey and New York have expressed concerns about allowing Americans to limit deductions of state and local taxes to $10,000.

Several influential industry groups, including the National Association of Realtors and National Federation of Independent Business, have also expressed concerns. Under the plan, the cap on the mortgage deduction would drop from $1 million to $500,000.

Some Republicans also want to include the repeal of Affordable Care Act’s individual healthcare mandate in the bill.

Democrats have been opposed to much of the bill, saying the changes favor mainly the wealthy — but they don’t have enough votes to prevent the plan from gong to the floor.

House Republicans said they hope to pass the bill by Thanksgiving, and Trump hopes to sign it by Christmas.

Under the House bill — the first major tax overhaul since 1986 — the number of tax brackets drops form seven to four, reduces the corporate tax rate, doubles the standard deduction, increases the child tax credit, eliminates estate and alternative minimum taxes and caps the tax rate for small and family-owned businesses. Additionally, most itemized deductions, including expenses for healthcare and education, are eliminated.

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