After the repeated failures to cram partisan health care legislation through Congress, the White House is trying to avoid a similar embarrassment with tax reform. Though the the congressional GOP leadership has publicly announced their unwillingness to work with Democrats on tax reform, the White House has “been wooing 15 to 20 centrist House Democrats since early summer” in order to get President Trump a legislative win.
According to Politico, at a mid-June dinner between President Trump and four unnamed centrist House Democrats, tax reform was discussed as part of potential bipartisan package that would be combined with infrastructure spending — since “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, chief economic adviser Gary Cohn and top White House staff have huddled with conservative Democrats in the Blue Dog Coalition and the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.”
Perhaps in an effort to get ahead of another possible failure, White House director of legislative affairs Marc Short said that the White House preferred a bipartisan tax plan, but congressional Republicans “will choose the path that they want.”
Even if the Democrats and Republicans agreed to work together on tax reform, there’s no guarantee they’d agree on just whose taxes would be reformed. However, if the Republicans have intra-party conflicts again, gaining votes from moderate Democrats could be their only hope to pass a bill.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said he will use the simple-majority budget reconciliation process to get around any Democratic filibuster:
McConnell and Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) have argued that Democrats could still get on board, but multiple GOP insiders say the plan for now is to proceed along party lines.
However, with Congress on recess, there are no details about what might be voted on when they return, though there are a lot of ideas. The last time tax reform was seriously considered (and achieved) was in 1986, though the GOP’s own documentation regarding tax reform notes that that process took about three years, while McConnell and the White House want to pass something before the end of the year.