Rep. Kevin Brady, the Texas Republican tasked with steering tax reform through the House, promised success Wednesday in a speech at the Reagan Ranch in California, saying that failure is not an option.
"We cannot let the status quo win," the House Ways and Means Committee chairman said, speaking from behind a replica of the table on which Reagan signed legislation cutting taxes in 1981.
Brady warned that special interests would aim to kill tax reform to keep tax breaks that benefit them.
"When this fight gets tough, and it will over the coming months, we can't give up," he said. "We won't give up."
Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration say that they aim to pass an overhaul of the tax code this year, with the legislative process beginning when Congress returns from its August break.
Brady appeared at the Reagan Ranch in Southern California Wednesday with three other members of the Ways and Means Committee to press the case for legislation over the congressional recess, which normally would be a sleepy time with Congress away from Washington and the president on vacation.
However, their efforts were overshadowed by the massive controversy provoked by President Trump's comments on the violence at a rally of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.
In television interviews earlier Wednesday, Brady was repeatedly asked whether Trump's statements that "both sides" were to blame for the violence, which caused business leaders to distance themselves from the White House, would harm the unified GOP effort to reform the tax code.
"Where I know him best is on tax reform, and I'm confident he wil lead on this issue," he said.
In a separate interview on CNBC, the Texas conservative suggested that the widening political divisions won't affect tax reform, because tax relief is a prospect that would benefit all Americans.
Brady is relying on Trump to help push tax reform through Congress. He "will be incredibly crucial to the success," Brady said.
Rep. Lloyd Doggett, however, a Texan who is the top Democrat on the tax subcommittee, criticized Republicans for working on normal legislative business following Trump's remarks.
"More than the tax cuts for the wealthiest few, the crown jewel of Republican dogma, we need an overall House plan of how to use our constitutional system of checks and balances to discourage violence, ensure our democracy's stability, and contain this erratic, dangerous president," Doggett said.