House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp said Tuesday he remains committed to his promise to introduce a tax-code rewrite this year, and is not worried that top House GOP leaders may be planning to ask him in a meeting Thursday to hold off.
"No, not really," said Camp, R-Mich., in an impromptu interview. "Why would I be?"
Camp added, "I haven't had the meeting yet. I'm not going to prejudge it. But I look forward to discussing the merits of tax reform with our leadership." House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., will top the list of those at the meeting.
As for his own thinking, Camp said he wants to stick to his promises to take some action toward overhauling and simplifying the nation's tax code before the end of the year — and by that, he said he means a markup of such legislation by his committee. He said he is not sure that could happen before Thanksgiving.
But, Camp added, "I said committee action this year. I still would like to keep to that timeline, yes."
Camp's comments Tuesday came amid talk on Capitol Hill that House GOP leaders will seek to persuade him to delay moving toward a tax overhaul until the second session of the 113th Congress next year. Earlier this year, Boehner had said a rewrite of the tax code was his top legislative priority in 2013 and he designated H.R. 1 for the bill. But Republican leaders are now reportedly concerned about stepping on what they believe is a winning message for their party in their attacks on the Affordable Care Act snafus. They also don't want to overshadow the ongoing negotiations on the budget in the House-Senate conference committee.
Finally there is some worry that unveiling Camp's proposal now would leave it open to tight scrutiny over the long holiday break at the end of the year. The backlash from groups or individuals negatively affected by proposed changes in the code could focus on Republicans, with the midterm elections looming next year.
No tax-reform plan has emerged from the Senate, either, adding to the hesitation among GOP leaders to put forward a House plan that could face fierce criticism, with no chance for a deal to be worked out with the Senate. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., has scheduled a meeting for Thursday on the topic of tax reform with other members of the panel, but there is no indication a reform plan is imminent.
Camp said he does not believe action by his committee now would take away from other Republican policy initiatives or political messages, and he wants to move forward.
"Look, I'd like the committee to act," he said. "I think the time is right. We need a pro-growth reform agenda. And tax reform will help grow our economy, create jobs, and increase wages."