House Democrats ask Republicans to delay vote on tax reform bill still being negotiated

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WASHINGTON -- The top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee is asking Republicans to postpone voting on their tax reform bill because it hasn't been released yet.
Republicans had planned to release the bill Wednesday and begin voting on it Monday. But they have had to put off release of bill until Thursday because of continued last-minute negotiations over contentious issues such as the future of the federal deduction for state and local taxes.

Ways and Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, announced over the weekend he has restored the itemized deduction for property taxes, but that hasn't been enough for some Republican lawmakers whose constituents would lose the federal deduction for state and local income and sales taxes.

Democrats said they won't have enough time to review the details of the complex legislation to vote on it beginning Monday.

"Democratic members will have even less time to review legislation that will touch every American and fundamentally alter the finance system of this country," Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the committee, wrote in a letter to Brady. "It is my hope that you will take this into consideration and delay the start of the full committee markup.”

Republicans plan to complete the markup of the legislation next week and hold a House floor vote the week of Nov. 13.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, plans to release the Senate version of the bill next week.

Meanwhile, CQ reported Wednesday that Senate Republicans are considering a number of revenue raisers.

Among the provisions listed by CQ: ending the tax-exempt status for professional sports leagues; adding a 2% excise tax on private college and university endowments with assets over $100,000 for each full-time student; prohibiting businesses deducting entertainment expenses; and eliminating the deductions for employee mass transit and parking benefits.

Congressional Republicans say their goal is to send tax reform legislation to the White House by the end of the year.

Neal suggested in his letter that lawmakers should take a slower, more deliberative approach.

"If we want to do it well, we should review what worked in the past: a methodical, systematic and steady process over the course of months," Neal said in his letter.

He suggested the Republicans will be unveiling "a hastily-drafted bill being subjected to unrealistic and artificial deadlines."

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