- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Republican negotiators on Wednesday said they’ve managed to strike a deal on a $1.4 trillion tax-cut package and that they’ll be prepared to send it to President Trump’s desk next week.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch told reporters that House and Senate lawmakers working to reconcile the two chambers’ versions have reached an agreement.

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said negotiators were preparing to brief their members about a plan and said he didn’t want to get ahead of those talks.

“I’m confident we’ll pass the bill next week,” said Mr. Cornyn, who along with Mr. Hatch is a Senate Republican conferee on the bill.

Mr. Trump was scheduled to hold a lunch at the White House Wednesday with Mr. Hatch, Mr. Cornyn, and other conferees who have been working to hammer out differences between the two plans before delivering his own speech on the issue.

Both the House- and Senate-passed plans slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, trimmed individual rates, and scrubbed out various exemptions and deductions in the code.

Lawmakers on Tuesday were weighing a compromise that would instead set the corporate rate at 21 percent and the top individual rate at 37 percent.

That individual rate is down from the current top rate of 39.6 percent. The House bill preserved the 39.6 percent top rate, while the Senate plan lowered it to 38.5 percent.

But lawmakers have been sensitive to concerns that middle-to-upper income earners, particularly in blue, high-tax states, would take a big hit if breaks like the state and local tax deduction were eliminated and the top individual rate was left unchanged.

House and Senate conferees are holding an open meeting Wednesday afternoon, as Democrats say Republicans should delay their tax push until Democrat Doug Jones can be seated as the new senator from Alabama.

Upon Mr. Jones’ swearing-in, the Republican majority will be 51-49, leaving the GOP with essentially no margin for error on taxes and other issues.

But Republican leaders say they’re pressing forward.

“I don’t expect the new senator to be here until January,” Mr. Cornyn said.

At the White House, President Trump said they were still “negotiating some final points.”

“We’re very very close to a historic legislative victory,” he said, kicking off a meeting with GOP negotiators working on the final compromise deal.

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