A key Republican lawmaker said Thursday that he wants to lift the new tax bill's cap on property tax deductions, a critical negotiating point as the House strives for swift legislative action.
Rep. Tom MacArthur of New Jersey said he wants the cap on state and local property tax deductions lifted from $10,000 in the first draft of the bill to $12,500.
The $10,000 cap was a compromise between leadership, who had initially proposed to do away with state and local deductions altogether, and members from high-tax states such as New York and New Jersey, who raised concerns that eliminating the break could hurt their constituents.
"I'm trying to get to yes," MacArthur said off the House floor. He has helped lead negotiations among blue-state representatives, leadership and the Trump administration over the cutting of state and local tax breaks, one of a handful of factors that could sink the bill in the House.
He added that an additional setback is that the House bill would limit the value of the mortgage interest deduction for new home loans, a feature that he said could hurt homeowners in his district.
MacArthur said, though, that he would try to negotiate changes to the bill to vote for it.
"There’s a lot of good in the bill. I think we’ve got to try to improve these couple of areas so we don’t discourage homeowership in certain states," he said, adding that "I’m not interested sitting on the sideline shooting spitballs at everyone else" by ruling out a "yes" vote.
Other blue-state representatives similarly expressed a desire to support the bill, even while registering concern over the property tax provisions.
"I hope that improvements can be made," said New Jersey Rep. Leonard Lance. Like MacArthur, Lance voted against the House GOP fiscal 2018 budget to express opposition to the plan to eliminate state and local deductions.
"We hope to continue to negotiate," he added.
"I'm more of a yes than a no right now," said New York Rep. Claudia Tenney, speaking on Fox Business. Tenney also had voted against the budget.
Rep. Tom Reed, a New York member of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, promoted the bill in a statement, saying that it would deliver tax cuts for virtually all the homeowners in his district.
"I stand with and will protect the hard-working taxpayers of our region and across America. I have heard the voices of American workers and the message is clear: people deserve a tax cut, and this legislation will deliver just that,” Reed said.