Jan 29, 2024 - Politics & Policy

House Republicans rage as leaders back bipartisan tax deal

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Fireworks erupted during a closed-door House Republican whip meeting on Monday night, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: House Republicans are bitterly divided over the bipartisan tax deal struck by Ways and Means Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.), but they're being side-stepped by Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.).

  • Smith and Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) could be overheard in a heated exchange outside the meeting, with the New York Republican hammering the measure for not including a provision on raising the State and Local Tax deduction (SALT) cap — a key priority for members in high-tax states.
  • The tense conversation came as Johnson told a group at a Congressional Institute event that House GOP leadership has decided to move forward with the tax deal on suspension.
  • This procedural move requires a 2/3 vote to pass the House, but prevents small groups of members from blocking a vote.

Zoom in: "I understand these guys' frustration, both political and policy wise," bill supporter Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) told Axios.

  • "But I think at the end of the day you've got to try and get as many votes as you can otherwise you're not gonna have any chance of movement in the Senate."
  • "I get it if you're from New York and California you'd like to get some tweaks," another member said.
  • The deal struck by Smith and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) would bolster the child tax credit and provide research and development credits for businesses.

Between the lines: Multiple GOP members argued they think more time should be provided to members to be briefed and allowed to provide their input on the bill.

  • Some conservatives have argued that they're concerned the Child Tax Credit language not requiring a parent to have a Social Security number would provide a tax break for undocumented immigrants and feel it shouldn't be brought up under suspension.
  • Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) — the subcommittee chair on tax policy — told Axios: "My experience on [Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA)] was it took a long time to get to it and by the time we were done, everybody understood and everybody had a piece of the construction of it."
  • "TCJA was a marvelous blueprint for the way things should be done. I would never ever sell a car without going over everything on the car."

Zoom out: While factions of the conference have grievances over the bill, senior GOP sources said they believe the bill will likely pass the House.

  • The whip team is slated to whip the bill on Tuesday morning, multiple sources familiar told Axios.
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