President Trump defended congressional Republicans' final tax bill while speaking with reporters Saturday, accusing Democrats of criticizing the plan without knowing what it will do. "It's going to be one of the great Christmas gifts to middle-income people," Trump said. "The Democrats have their sound bite, the standard sound bite before they even know what the bill is all about."
Trump also praised the strength of the economy, which he said will "start to rock" at up to 6 percent annual growth thanks to the tax bill and "what we've done with regulation and other things." Watch an excerpt of the president's comments via his Twitter account below. Bonnie Kristian
TAX CUTS will increase investment in the American economy and in U.S. workers, leading to higher growth, higher wages, and more JOBS! pic.twitter.com/4GxM8psMU1
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 16, 2017
Senate Republicans passed their version of the GOP tax reform plan very early Saturday morning, and the House passed a different version in November. Now, to meet President Trump's goal of having a final version signed by Christmas, congressional leadership from both houses have to reconcile the two bills — no small feat.
"We're gonna go to conference unless the Senate makes unbelievable changes to their bill in the next few days," said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chair of the fiscally conservative House Freedom Caucus, on Thursday. Still, Meadows added, he is "very optimistic" an agreement will be reached this month.
The two pieces of legislation retain a number of differences, as detailed at The New York Times and The Washington Post. For example, the House bill has four individual income tax brackets, while the Senate bill retains the current count of seven. The Senate bill repeals the ObamaCare individual mandate; the House bill does not. Conversely, the House bill eliminates the estate tax, but the Senate bill changes the tax-free limit from $5.5 million to $11 million.
Once all those differences — and more — are reconciled into a single piece of legislation, both chambers will likely have to vote a second time to approve the new version for the president's signature. Bonnie Kristian
President Trump will meet with Senate Republicans Tuesday to discuss tax reform legislation, Senate Republican Policy Committee chair Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) announced Friday. "This is a historic opportunity for our conference and the president to build on our momentum to give Americans the tax relief they've been waiting for," Barrasso said in a statement.
Trump similarly visited House Republicans before the lower chamber passed its version of the tax reform plan. He is also scheduled to meet with party leaders from both houses of Congress — Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) — later Tuesday. Bonnie Kristian
A trio of Democratic senators from red states joined President Trump for dinner on Tuesday, with the evening's conversation revolving around overhauling the tax code.
The goal of the dinner with Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), and Joe Donnelly (Ind.) was to find common ground on issues like retirement security and keeping jobs in the United States, Politico reports. The three senators did not sign a letter from Democrats that shared their requirements for tax reform, although they haven't said anything that strays too far from the party line, with the exception of Manchin saying he was open to cutting taxes for the rich and corporations. Before the dinner, Manchin told reporters he wasn't sent to Washington to "pick and choose who I want to work with. I was sent here to do the job for my state of West Virginia."
Vice President Mike Pence and three Republican senators — Orrin Hatch (Utah), Pat Toomey (Pa.), and John Thune (S.D.) — also attended the dinner. White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short said Tuesday morning that Trump wants to have bipartisan support for a tax plan, especially after seeing what happened during the GOP's failure to repeal ObamaCare. "We don't feel like we can assume that we can get tax reform done strictly on a partisan basis," he said. Catherine Garcia