Latest News 27-01-2024 01:01 11 Views

House GOP leaders eye Democrats for help on $80 billion tax bill as Republicans defect

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EXCLUSIVE: Lawmakers' frustrations over Congress’ new tax bill are forcing House GOP leaders to rely on Democrat votes to get it over the line next week, sources said.

House leadership released details for the bipartisan agreement from House and Senate negotiators earlier this week, which includes tax deductions to bolster American businesses as well as a temporary extension of the Child Tax Credit (CTC). 

Three sources told Fox News Digital that they understand the bill will get a vote on the House floor next week. Normally, legislation will advance through the Rules Committee first and then get a procedural 'rule' vote on the House floor, almost always along party lines, before needing a simple majority to pass.

But the sources told Fox News Digital that Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., and Ways & Means Chairman Jason Smith, R-Mo., aim to push it straight to the House floor under 'suspension of the rules,' bypassing procedural steps in exchange for raising the threshold for passage to two-thirds. 

Republican hardliners weaponized the rule vote several times this session to bring down legislation by their own party in protest of House GOP leaders' decisions. Johnson holds just a thin majority of 219 Republicans to 213 Democrats, so raising the threshold for passage of the bill, which is expected to be bipartisan anyway, means he'll need at least 75 Democrats on board if the House is in full attendance.

'From everything I can understand, the issue is that Freedom Caucus folks are going to essentially bring down any of the rules that we have in the near future, as long as the immigration situation is hanging out there, and the budget situation is hanging out there,' a senior GOP aide said. 

The Freedom Caucus has previously held up the House floor over disagreements on government funding and border policy, issues that are still very much under discussion.

It’s not just them, however – Republicans who represent the politically fickle suburbs outside major cities in New York, California and elsewhere are frustrated that the tax bill does not touch state and local tax (SALT) deductions. 

Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Calif., who was part of a Thursday night meeting with Johnson and other Republicans concerned about the issue, said that lifting the $10,000 SALT deduction cap was critical to middle-class families. He also argued that it would be critical to deciding who holds the House next year.

'The bill is not necessarily a bad bill. . . . I just think it's asinine to not take advantage of this opportunity to address an issue that matters in districts that will determine who has the majority in the next Congress,' Garcia said before the meeting.

Meanwhile, top members of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus told Fox News Digital that hardliners have their separate issues with the bill, namely arguing that the CTC can be claimed by illegal immigrants who have children in the United States.

'The overall brand that the GOP right now is funding wars and tax cuts for corporations. I'm sorry. I was sent here to cut spending and to secure the border,' Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, said.

'Some of the tax policies I firmly support, but we should be making tax policy permanent, not these, like, temporary little additions. I think that's a problem. And importantly, the child tax credits . . . going to children of people here illegally, and there not being real brakes on that possibility.'

Former Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry, R-Pa., was blunter in his assessment: 'I can't imagine why we're doing it, or why we're attempting to do it. And it's not improving a lot of the lives of the people that I represent, and so I’m very discouraged by it.'

He said that allowing the CTC to go to illegal immigrants 'is absolutely something that should be a red line for every single Republican,' and bypassing the rules to put the bill on the floor next week 'should be a signal to everybody that you're heading in the wrong direction.'

Chairman Smith pushed back against those accusations in a statement to Fox News Digital: 'The Child Tax Credit reforms in this bill are pro-family policies that maintain the child tax credit structure of the Trump-era GOP tax reform. It halts any push for monthly checks and provides no special loopholes for illegal immigrants. In fact, the plan still requires a Social Security number for children, which was added in the 2017 GOP tax reform.'

'The Child Tax Credit provisions in this bill help families crushed by inflation, removes the penalty for families with multiple children, and maintains work requirements,' he said.

Garcia, who admitted he was still hopeful that something could be done on SALT deductions, confirmed that he had pressed Smith about the issue at another GOP lawmaker meeting last week. He pointed out the deduction caps were still expiring either way in 2025.

'We can address this right now, on our terms, get a win out of it politically,' Garcia said. 'Or we can do nothing, lose potentially a lot of races because we passed this opportunity to address SALT, which is very important to New York and California, and then try to have a conversation about the new policies when . . . we've lost the majority because we passed this opportunity to help the swing district members get a win on the SALT cap.' 

The bill was always likely to pass with bipartisan support, sailing out of committee on a 40-3 vote. But putting it up under suspension emphasizes the politically precarious position Johnson finds himself in while presiding over a razor-thin majority in one of the most divided GOP conferences in modern history.

Fox News Digital reached out to Johnson’s office for comment, as well as the offices of Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., and Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., but did not immediately hear back.


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