U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday pressed ahead with his outreach to Democrats to try to make good on a campaign promise for major tax cuts, while fellow Republicans in the House of Representatives promised an outline of a tax plan in two weeks.
The White House and the Republican-led Congress have not put forth a detailed tax plan despite months of talks. House Speaker Paul Ryan said an outline will be unveiled during the work week beginning Monday, Sept. 25, with the House tax-writing committees then crafting legislation in the subsequent weeks.
“It’s the beginning of a very important process to achieve for the first time in a generation overhauling our tax system and giving middle-class families a much deserved break,” Ryan told reporters.
The White House said Trump’s meeting with seven senators, including three Democrats, on Tuesday night to try to the pave the way for an overhaul of the U.S. tax code and tax cuts for the middle class was “highly productive” and would “spur constructive discussion.”
The president was set to meet on Wednesday afternoon at the White House with House members, including eight Democrats and five Republicans.
Trump went to Twitter to urge Congress to “move fast” on what he called “the biggest Tax Cut & Tax Reform package in the history of our country.”
There has been no comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. tax code since 1986, and the starkly different vision embraced by the two parties for how to move forward promises to make the task difficult.
Republicans are advocating a deep cut in the corporate tax rate, tax cuts for the middle class and a simplified code. But Democrats, emphasizing the need for relief for the middle class, have criticized the Republican efforts as benefiting mainly the wealthiest Americans.
Ryan said the outline being worked on now would reflect the consensus of the House Ways and Means Committee, Finance Committee and the Trump administration.
“I would love to have the Democrats supporting and working with us in a constructive way on tax reform, but we’re going to do it no matter what,” Ryan said.
Republicans have been trying for most of the year to come up with a detailed tax plan while ignoring the Democrats.
Ryan and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last week expressed confidence that Congress will pass the tax legislation this year. Both have cast doubt on the likelihood that the plan would realize Trump’s goal of cutting the corporate tax rate from the current 35 to 15 percent.
In his nearly eight months in office, Trump has failed to get his major legislative goals through Congress. A bid to dismantle the Obamacare healthcare law fell apart and he has not unveiled detailed proposals on taxes and infrastructure spending.
Democrats largely have lined up against Trump’s legislative priorities, but he has shown a newfound willingness to work across party lines.
Trump reached a surprising deal last week with Democratic leaders on fiscal issues, blindsiding Republican leaders. That led to a bill that Trump signed on Friday extending the government debt limit and federal spending for three months and providing about $15 billion in hurricane-related aid.
Democrat Joe Manchin, one of the senators who met with Trump on Tuesday, told CBS News that Trump was “very aggressive” on the need for a bipartisan plan.
“The president comes out right away and says, ‘Listen, this is not a tax cut for the rich. I‘m not going to get a tax cut, nor any of the wealthy, super one-percenters will get any tax cuts,'” said Manchin, saying he is “anxious” to see a template of the plan.
Reporting by Makini Brice and Roberta Rampton; Additional reporting by David Morgan and Susan Heavey; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Frances Kerry and Alistair Bell.