White House defends partisanship on tax reform

William B.Plowman

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By Kailani Koenig

WASHINGTON — As Republicans stand on the edge of passing an overhaul of the American tax code, the White House on Sunday defended the partisan nature of the negotiations.

“We could not get eight additional Democrat senators to get us above a 60-vote threshold,” White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short said on “Meet The Press.” “Therefore we go the budget reconciliation route because this is important to the American economy and the American people.”

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One of those Democratic Senators who initially expressed some interest in working with the White House on taxes was Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who spoke with President Donald Trump about taxes multiple times.

“I wanted to be more involved,” Manchin said on “Meet The Press,” adding that he believed the president did initially want to work “in a bipartisan way.”

“Marc Short and I have been talking,” Manchin continued. “We exchanged ideas back and forth. So I gave them a whole litany of things that I thought 10 or more Democrats would vote for to have it 60 or 65 votes. I really believed is possible if you had regular order. Once Mitch McConnell has decided that 51 votes was all he needed and they were all going to be Republicans and make it political, that's exactly what happened.”

Short said Sunday that he would have liked Manchin to get on board with their plan, but “the reality is that I sat in Joe Manchin’s office many evenings trying to find a pathway forward to make this bipartisan.”

Republicans in Congress released their final version of their tax bill on Friday aimed at cutting corporate tax rates and ushering through a broad overhaul of the U.S. tax code. Their plan, negotiated between the House and Senate, doubles the standard deduction, doubles the child tax credit, doubles the starting point for the estate tax, eliminates the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act, and slashes the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.

Different bills passed the Senate and the House earlier this year, and Republicans have hoped to pass a final bill by Christmas.