National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said last week that the administration would have a “very detailed, drafted tax plan” ready to be delivered to Congressional Republicans by the time the August recess is over.
The comments represent the most aggressive pledge yet from the administration, but White House officials have proven themselves overly optimistic on their timelines before. In some ways, the comments also undermine congressional efforts to continue developing a unified plan together. Clearly the administration is attempting to drive the effort, but Cohn did say in a separate interview that the White House remained engaged with Congress to get “uniform buy-in.”
Congressional leaders have been reluctant to cede too much control to the White House and don’t want to put their own effort on hold as they wait for details. House Ways and Means Chair Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said he hopes to continue to work with the Senate and White House so they can coalesce on one set of principles to begin moving forward by the fall.
The next step looks increasingly likely to be the release of a more detailed plan during or shortly after the August recess. It is less clear whether that will be a House tax package with administration buy-in, a White House draft with House buy-in, or a White House release followed by a House package. Senate Republicans have been involved in the high-level discussions, but have been less aggressive in formulating their own proposals. However, Finance Committee Member Rob Portman, R-Ohio, is reportedly working on his own tax reform proposal.
Director, Washington National Tax Office
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