House Republicans delayed the planned rollout of their tax reform legislation Tuesday night as they struggled to resolve several major issues still dividing their conference and as drafters prepared to work throughout the night to prepare legislation.
Ways and Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady, the lawmaker responsible for drafting the bill, said late Tuesday night that the tax package would be delayed by one day, until Thursday.
"We are pleased with the progress we are making and we remain on schedule to take action and approve a bill at our Committee beginning next week," the Texan said in a statement. A committee markup session had previously been scheduled for next Monday.
The announcement marked a rocky start to the House GOP effort to produce legislative text.
Just minutes earlier, following an hours-long meeting with his Republican colleagues at the Capitol, Brady had told reporters that the timing of the bill would depend on how fast the committee could write it. "A lot work remains with the drafters right now. They will continue to work through the night," Brady had said.
Other members of the tax-writing panel, on leaving the closed-door Halloween meeting, had suggested that the bill's release timing would depend on the ability of the drafters to finish.
Florida's Rep. Vern Buchanan, a senior member of the panel, said that the party was "very close" to finishing the bill, and suggested that outside events — including the terrorist attack in New York City -- had conspired to slow the committee's work.
Asked when the bill would be completed, Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona responded with an open-ended answer: "When they finish."
President Trump noted the late-going effort, lauding Republicans for "working hard (and late)" in a tweet.
The Republican House members are working hard (and late) toward the Massive Tax Cuts that they know you deserve. These will be biggest ever!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017
As late as Tuesday afternoon, as members returned to Washington for a vote on a peanut farming bill, Brady said that the bill's introduction happen on Wednesday.
But that timeline was doomed by intra-party disagreements. While some details of the bill had begun to leak out on Tuesday, Republicans were still racing to finalize major parts of the legislation, including which tax breaks and loopholes would be eliminated to raise trillions in revenue to offset the package's tax rate reductions.
One of the major issues outstanding Tuesday was the bill's treatment of the state and local tax deduction.
GOP representatives from high-tax states remained opposed to eliminating the ability of individuals to deduct state and local income taxes from their federal taxes. The New York delegation had aired concerns, Rep. Peter King of Long Island said.
"It's not enough," King said of Brady's announcement over the weekend that deductions for state and local property taxes would stay under the legislation. He told reporters that blue-state representatives wanted a compromise on income taxes as well, and assurances that any such deal would be honored by the Senate.
Republicans aim to quickly move legislation to put it on President Trump's desk before the end of the year.