Legislative Activity

Senate Starts Talking Tax Reform, Advances Mnuchin Nomination

As House tax-writers continue to move forward with their tax reform “Blueprint” – and work to address a myriad of concerns that have arisen (i.e., border adjustability) – various Senate Finance Committee Members last week began to lay the groundwork for their approach to tax reform. In particular, while Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) emphasized that he agrees with the House in wanting to reduce corporate rates, moving to a territorial tax system, and enacting tax reform that makes the U.S. more competitive, he also acknowledged that the Senate is unlikely to simply take up the House’s proposal. In particular, he recognized that various Senators have reservations on border adjustability, thus “[i]t’s too early…to have a definitive position” on the proposal. Moreover, given the closely-divided nature of the Senate, Chairman Hatch noted that it will be difficult to bring Republicans together on a broad-based tax reform proposal, thus he is of the mindset that the Senate plan “will almost surely end up looking different than what passes in the House” which is “not a bad thing.”

Separately, the Senate Finance Committee last week advanced the nomination of Mr. Steven Mnuchin to be the Secretary of the Treasury. The vote, which was rescheduled multiple times due to Democrats boycotting the meeting, was eventually held without participation by any Committee Democrats following suspension of the Committee rules. While the extent of the fallout from this contentious Committee action is not yet clear, the fact that one of the most collegial Senate committees is so sharply divided does not seem to bode well for bipartisan agreement on tax reform this Congress.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Monday, February 6, the Senate Finance Committee will hold an organizational meeting.