Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said Monday that Republicans are looking at ways to ensure that their tax bill's business tax cuts can be made permanent under the Senate's rules.
"We're looking at a number of alternatives that will fill the necessary gaps and we have every intention of making the business reforms permanent," the Utah Republican said during his opening remarks as his committee began working on the tax bill.
Hatch was addressing a problem that was apparent when he released the bill last week. The nearly $1.5 trillion tax cut appears to lose revenue beyond the 10th year, running afoul of the rules that allow the GOP to advance the bill while avoiding a Democratic filibuster. If they don't address the problem by changing the bill, Republicans would have to gain 60 votes for the bill or make its provisions temporary.
Hatch hasn't explained how they might alter the bill to ensure that it wouldn't add to the deficits over the long term. He simply assured the committee that he is "working to ensure that the reduced rates and additional reforms" for businesses remain in place and said "there's no real cause for concern at this point."
The plan includes reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and implementing a break for non-corporate businesses that would effectively lower their top rate to 32 percent.
Senate Republicans have some time to find a fix, but not much. Monday's committee session began what is expected to be four straight days of markup. The GOP hopes to pass its tax legislation in the Senate shortly after Thanksgiving.
Senators were set to give opening statements Monday and hear a description of the bill from Thomas Barthold, the chief of staff of the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation. In subsequent days, the panel is expected to debate and vote on dozens of amendments, including the GOP fix meant to ensure that the bill is compliant with Senate rules.