WASHINGTON — Democrats on the House Ways and Means committee are urging the committee’s Republican chairman to work in a bipartisan manner to write tax-reform legislation.
“In order to make the difficult task of tax reform a reality, it is essential to sit down and earnestly discuss tax policies that will strengthen American families and enhance U.S. competitiveness,” the 16 Democrats on the committee told Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., in a letter dated Wednesday.
Camp has said that he would like to mark up tax reform legislation in the House Ways and Means committee by the end of the year.
In February, Camp and Ways and Means ranking member Sander Levin, D-Mich., organized 11 bipartisan working groups that reviewed provisions of the current tax code about designated subject areas and compiled feedback about the topics. Municipal market groups including the Bond Dealers of America and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association submitted comments to working groups opposing efforts to curb the tax exemption for municipal bonds.
The working groups met for a few months, ending in the spring. Since then, Ways and Means Democrats have wanted to work with their Republican colleagues to write a House tax-reform bill, a Democratic aide on the committee said.
The Ways and Means Democrats said in their letter that bipartisanship on tax reform is needed in light of the federal government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis earlier this month.
“The recent government shutdown and a near default ground our legislative system to a halt and undermined the confidence of the American people in their government,” they wrote, later adding that “the last three weeks have made it clear that the only path for passage of comprehensive legislation in the House is one that garners a governing majority through Republican and Democratic votes.”
The legislation that ended the shutdown and averted a default passed despite opposition from a majority of House Republicans.
The Democrats recognized in their letter that they disagree with their Republican counterparts on approaches to tax reform.
“We believe that everyone should pay their fair share of taxes,” they wrote. Cutting the top individual and corporate tax rates to 25% and eliminating the alternative minimum tax, as was proposed in the budget passed by the Republican-controlled House, would cost over $5 trillion, according to a Joint Committee on Taxation estimate cited in the letter.