Camp Pressing Forward on Tax Reform Despite Resistance From GOP Leaders

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 29: House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) presides over a hearing about the implimentation of the Affordable Care Act in the Longworth House Office Building October 29, 2013 in Washington, DC. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner is the first Obama Administration to testify before Congress since the troubled launch the federal exchange website. 'I want to assure you that Healthcare.gov can be fixed, and we are working around the clock to give you the experience that you deserve,' she said.
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Billy House
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Billy House
Nov. 12, 2013, 3 p.m.

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.”

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