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House Republicans raise red flags over Senate tax bill

Lindsey McPherson, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- The tax overhaul bill the Senate released Thursday could create problems in negotiations with the House, given its divergence on key areas like the estate tax and the state and local tax deduction.

House conservatives are already firing warning shots that some aspects of the Senate bill are unacceptable, like a one-year delay in the corporate tax rate cut and preservation of the estate tax.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows called those proposals nonstarters, and Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker said they are problematic.

"If there's one or two things that we've been able to work through and get past and they take out, I think we can live (with) that," Walker said Wednesday. "If it's a complete overhaul, then I think all bets are off."

Interviews with Walker, Meadows and other members mentioned in this story were conducted before the Senate Finance Committee released highlights of its tax proposal and were based on reports of what was expected to be in the legislation. By the time the Senate plan was unveiled Thursday, the House had already adjourned for the week. The House measure was approved by the Ways and Means Committee earlier in the day.

The estate tax, which Republicans call the death tax, is universally hated among conservatives, and repealing it has long been considered part of any GOP effort to rewrite the tax code.

While House GOP members appear willing to accept their leadership's decision to postpone full repeal of the tax to limit the cost of the overall bill, they're less likely to accept the Senate's plan to keep the estate tax with higher exemptions.

"That saddens me," Freedom Caucus member Scott Perry said upon learning that the Senate did not plan to repeal the estate tax.

"There are things that we absolutely object to, and that's probably going to be one of them for many of us, but we're going to have to look at it in the totality and say, 'Yeah, I don't like it, but I've got a binary choice,'" the Pennsylvania Republican said.

The House bill originally repealed the estate tax after six years, but an amendment the Ways and Means Committee adopted to the bill Thursday would delay the repeal an additional year to start in 2025.

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