Tags: Republicans | Develop | Tax | Cut | Secret

Republicans Develop Tax Cut in Secret

Thursday, 17 May 2001 12:00 AM

The House and Senate Republican leadership, key GOP lawmakers and sympathetic lobbyists have been using the secret session to develop a final agreement for the composition of the 11-year tax cut proposal passed by the House and currently under consideration by the Senate.

If successful, the strategy, which included a single day of public Senate committee deliberation Tuesday before forcing a vote, would spring a final version of the tax cut on Democrats Monday, just as the Senate prepares to take a final vote on the measure. The Senate leadership, if the current strategy continues, would present an amendment that details the agreement between the House and Senate as an alternative to having a public, bipartisan conference committee. Then the bill would only need a quick vote in the House, which - if successful - would send the final tax cut bill to the president's desk for a signature.

"They have been meeting all week to hash out their own differences," said a senior tax attorney.

A GOP Senate staff member said that no official decision has been made to pursue the amendment instead of conference strategy, but acknowledged that the meetings were taking place and would be continuing over the weekend.

"Even if they decide not to pursue the strategy (to skip the conference committee), it's a good idea to get these guys in a room to hash out the final details before it all becomes public," the GOP source said. "We have a tight time frame, we need to get on the same page."

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., released a statement that refused to address the specifics of the strategy but that said most tactics are under consideration.

"However we get it done, we intend to have a tax relief and stimulus package on the president's desk by Memorial Day to jump start the economy," the statement said.

Although their various spokesmen would not confirm it, several sources said that the meetings have been between the House and Senate leadership, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa; Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch; Texas Sen. Phil Gramm; New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg; House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas of California and a few others.

Regardless of whether the GOP attempts to skip the conference committee, Senate Democrats cannot contain their rage at the plan to speed the process.

Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota said that the process was "an abomination," because the GOP is speeding an important bill through Congress without pausing to consider the ramifications of cutting taxes over such a long period of time.

"When the history is written about how we got into this mess," the speed of the action will be considered tragic, Daschle said. "We didn't even see the (current) bill until last night."

Daschle said that the reason for the hasty action is tied to surplus projections due out in July that he claims will show shrinkage in the amount of money to be spent. If the bill is still under consideration at that time, he implied, the public and lawmakers would be more reluctant to cut taxes to President Bush's satisfaction.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., also accused the Republicans of holding floor debate and votes immediately after the Finance Committee action to prevent Democrats from getting the information they need to write amendments to offer on the floor. He said he has been unable to get the cost information, or scoring, from the bipartisan staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation for an amendment he would like to introduce today because of time constraints.

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Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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The House and Senate Republican leadership, key GOP lawmakers and sympathetic lobbyists have been using the secret session to develop a final agreement for the composition of the 11-year tax cut proposal passed by the House and currently under consideration by the...
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2001-00-17
Thursday, 17 May 2001 12:00 AM
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