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The next steps for tax reform (and why GOP is still stuck)

Brady wants to release a detailed tax reform plan after the House and Senate adopt a budget resolution. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin / AP

House Ways and Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady outlined a step-by-step process to House Republicans this morning for moving ahead on tax reform.

The goal: For the House and Senate to get a budget resolution done by mid-October, followed by the introduction of a detailed tax reform plan that he'd steer through his committee and then push through the House this fall, according to a person in the room.

Reality check: Republicans still have one big problem. The House and Senate have to reach an agreement on a budget resolution — which would set the broad outlines for tax reform — before they can work on a detailed tax reform bill. Yet conservatives like House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows aren't ready to commit to voting for a budget resolution unless they know the tax reform details first. If Republicans can't satisfy them, there's no guarantee they'll get past Step 1.

Yes, but: Brady says the “Big Six" tax reform negotiators hope to release a consensus tax reform framework the last week of September — so that could give a better sense of whether the conservatives will get what they need. (The “Big Six" are Brady, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Finance Committee chairman Orrin Hatch, Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House economic adviser Gary Cohn.)

The sequence, per the Brady briefing:

  • The consensus framework would be released the week of Sept. 25.
  • The House and Senate would try to approve a final budget resolution by mid-October.
  • Brady would release a “chairman's mark" — a first draft of the detailed tax reform plan.
  • The Ways and Means Committee would amend it and approve it.
  • Brady would work with the Budget Committee to bring it to the House floor.
  • House vote.
  • Senate vote.
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