The Senate voted Wednesday 51-47 to begin formal negotiations on tax reform with the House of Representatives. The vote comes on the heels of a Monday House vote of 222-192. One Republican in the Senate and seven in the House voted “no” on going to conference.In conference, designated conferees will work to reconcile the bills passed by the House and Senate. Conferees are not allowed to change parts of the two bills that are the same. Once the final legislative package is put together, it goes directly to the floor of the House and Senate for a vote, where both chambers must pass the bill as is. The House will vote first. Only once those votes are complete will the final version go to the President’s desk.

Due to added complexity over the last few weeks of negotiations, the bills contain many differences. The House version curbs the mortgage interest deduction; cuts corporate tax rates immediately; contains fewer individual brackets; lowers the “pass-through” rate to 25 percent; includes permanent changes to expensing rules; repeals the estate and Alternative Minimum Taxes; and makes individual and corporate cuts permanent.

The Senate bill maintains the medical expenses deduction; repeals the individual health care mandate required by the Affordable Care Act; contains seven individual brackets instead of four; contains no repeal of the estate tax; retains the student loan interest deduction; and allows a 23-percent “pass-through” deduction.

Both chambers have also confirmed their members of the conference committee. House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI) named nine fellow Republican members, including Kevin Brady (TX), Rob Bishop (UT), Diane Black (TN), Kristi Noem (SD), Devin Nunes (CA), Peter Roskam (IL), John Shimkus (IL), Greg Walden (OR) and Don Young (AK).

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) named five members, including Kathy Castor (FL, Lloyd Doggett (TX), Raul Grijalva (AZ), Sander Levin (MI) and Richard Neal (MA). Rep. Brady will head the conference committee.

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (KY) named eight fellow Republican Senators to the committee: Orrin Hatch (UT), Mike Enzi (WY), Lisa Murkowski (AK), John Cornyn (TX), John Thune (SD), Rob Portman (OH), Tim Scott (SC) and Pat Toomey (PA). Senate Minority leader Charles Schumer (NY) has not named Senate Democratic conferees as of Friday.

Republican House conference committee members have been working over the past week to begin the reconciliation process with the Senate bill, though official negotiations have not yet begun. They are expected to begin in an unofficial capacity over the weekend and officially next week.

 

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