President Trump’s top lieutenants and congressional leaders projected unity and claimed forward movement Tuesday evening after meeting at the Capitol to discuss tax reform, even as they remained unusually tight-lipped about their discussions.
“We’re moving forward,” Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said upon leaving the half-hour-plus meeting held at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office. Republican leaders and top tax-writers met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, after leadership met earlier in the day with Trump at the White House. At that meeting, Trump promised “the biggest tax cut in our country’s history.”
Hatch acknowledged, however, that lawmakers are not close to a final product. Congressional Republicans and the administration say they want to devise a single, unified approach before drafting tax reform legislation.
Nevertheless, Hatch said, “everybody was in sync there, and we felt very good about what we talked about.”
Addressing reporters Tuesday evening on his way through the Senate, Mnuchin said only that it was a “very productive meeting with leadership” and that he and Cohn spoke about a number of issues.
While Trump has said that overhauling the tax code is a top legislative priority, some supporters have raised concerns that the time to accomplish legislation is slipping away as Republicans work on an effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Also, Republicans are still debating several major questions regarding tax reform, especially whether the plan would be allowed to add to the federal debt, whether it would be a permanent overhaul or a temporary tax cut and what tax breaks would be eliminated to pay for tax rate reductions.
“We’re on schedule,” Cohn said Tuesday while pushing past a group of reporters.
Talking to reporters earlier in the day, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady said the administration is debating different ways of broadening the tax base by cutting breaks to offset revenue lost by lowering rates.
“They are exploring ideas, and maybe, more importantly, we are together going to find common ground,” the Texan said.