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Frustrated by Congress' plodding pace, Trump urges speed on tax bill

John T. Bennett, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump on Wednesday implored lawmakers to quickly send him a tax overhaul package a day after his top liaison to Congress said the president is frustrated by the often-plodding pace on Capitol Hill.

Trump and his top aides are busily discussing the contents of a bill that would slash individual and corporate tax rates, while also simplifying the federal tax code, with congressional Republicans and Democrats. Trump wants to sign a bill into law this calendar year.

The president took to Twitter, his preferred method of communication with his supporters, to promise "the biggest Tax Cut & Tax Reform package in the history of our country will soon begin."

He ended it with his call for swifter-than-usual action from lawmakers: "Move fast Congress!"

A few minutes later, Trump said the devastation left behind by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma make the need for tax cuts greater. "Go Congress, go!" he wrote.

The president's call for speed came about 24 hours after his legislative affairs director, Marc Short, told reporters Trump is frustrated by how long it takes lawmakers to do their work.

"The president's frustrations is borne out of Republicans saying given the chance, they'd repeal and replace" the 2010 health law, Short said during a Tuesday breakfast event sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

Republicans leaders promised Trump that would happen in an "expeditious" time frame, Short said, adding that they assured the president they would send him a health bill that was a major campaign promise for him and GOP congressional candidates by the time they took an April recess.

"So, yeah, I imagine the president is frustrated," Short said. "They didn't get that done."

So now, as they work on a tax bill that Trump's own words show is the key to fulfilling many of his campaign promises, Short said the president is asking: "How quickly can we get this done?"

In pursuit of the eight Democratic votes needed to get a tax bill through the Senate if White House officials and Republican leaders opt against trying to pass a measure with just 51 GOP votes, Trump dined with a group of Democrats and Republicans Tuesday evening.

Democrats at the dinner meeting were Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Trump's Republican dinner guests were Orrin Hatch of Utah, John Thune of South Dakota, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

The White House issued a statement Wednesday morning calling the meeting "highly productive," adding it "will spur constructive discussion moving forward."

"The president asked the bipartisan group of senators to help deliver tax cuts for American families, which is essential to economic growth and prosperity," the White House said. "Through bipartisan outreach efforts like this, President Trump is demonstrating his commitment to fulfilling his promises, and that includes producing tangible results on important issues like tax reform."

(c)2017 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved

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