Tom McClintock

Topic for Debate: Time to End Congressional Debates?
Real deliberation and persuasion are so rare, the move might improve Hill functionality

In the GOP’s successful push for its tax overhaul, floor debates appeared to have no influence on changing members’ positions. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Here’s a modest proposal to jumpstart the new year: Do away with what passes for “debate” on the floors of the House and Senate.

Doing so would mean Congress is facing up to its current rank among the world’s least deliberative bodies. It may be a place suffused with rhetoric, some of it pretty convincing at times, but next to no genuine cogitation happens in open legislative sessions and precious few ears are ever opened to opposing points of view.

Just One House Member Flips Vote on GOP Tax Overhaul
GOP leadership expects bill to pass Senate

Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., was the only House member to change position on the GOP tax overhaul. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 3:46 p.m. | Despite immense pressure from GOP leaders, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, vulnerable New Jersey Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, voted “no” for the second time on a Republican tax overhaul.

Just one of the 13 Republicans who voted against the House tax overhaul bill in November switched their vote to “yes” as the House passed the conference committee report Tuesday, 227-203, sending it to the Senate for final approval.

In House, California Dreamin’ on Tax Deductions
Tax break for state income taxes are back in negotiations on measure

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem leave a House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republican leaders and tax writers are working to at least partially revive the state and local income tax deduction in a bid to solidify support from California GOP lawmakers in any final tax bill.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, himself a Golden State Republican, said Wednesday the proposal he’s discussing to restore the income tax deduction would be as an alternative, not in addition, to the break for property taxes.

Income Tax Deduction on Table to Attract California GOP Votes
“It would make a lot of difference to me,” Rohrabacher says

California Reps. Darrell Issa, left, and Dana Rohrabacher voted against the GOP tax bill because of concerns over the curtailing of the state and local tax deduction. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady confirmed Wednesday that at least a partial revival of the state and local income tax deduction is under consideration as part of the tax code overhaul, but did not provide details.

“We just continue to explore ways to make sure that we provide tax relief to families regardless of where they live,” the Texas Republican said. “That’s a commitment I’ve made to lawmakers in high-tax states and I’m going to continue to work to improve it.”

House Leaders May Revive Income Tax Deduction for California, McHenry Says
‘We still have some tweaks to do to accommodate California, mainly’

Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House GOP leaders are working on a tweak to the state and local income tax deduction to appease California members, Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry said Tuesday.

The bill the House passed before Thanksgiving would fully repeal the state and local income tax deduction and retain the property tax deduction with a $10,000 cap. Twelve members from the high-tax states of New York, New Jersey and California voted against the tax bill because of concerns over the so-called SALT deduction.

10 Things to Watch as the Tax Bill Moves Forward
House passage just the first step

President Donald Trump arrives for a meeting with the House Republican Conference in the Capitol on Thursday to discuss the GOP’s tax bill. White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, far left, and House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving, foreground, also appear. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House passage of a tax code rewrite Thursday was just the first in a multistep process. Many changes are expected before a bill reaches President Donald Trump’s desk.

First, the Senate has to prove it can pass a tax overhaul after failing to do so on health care.

GOP Leaders Predict More ‘Yes’ Votes on Final Tax Bill
‘As long as you cross the finish line’

From left, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., arrive to speak to reporters following the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republican leaders said they were not surprised by the comfortable nine-vote margin by which they passed their tax overhaul bill and predicted an even bigger spread on a final package reconciled with the Senate.

“I was not surprised by any of the ‘no’ votes or the ‘yes’ votes,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise told Roll Call. “So it was a lot of work over the last week, but I was really proud of the conference and what they did for the country.”

Meet the Republicans Who Voted ‘No’ on the Tax Bill
13 GOP members, most from high-tax states, voted against leadership

California Rep. Darrell Issa, who voted “no” on the House GOP tax bill, finds himself in a Toss-up re-election race. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republican leaders cheered passage of their sweeping tax overhaul Thursday, but 13 GOP lawmakers bucked their party and voted against the bill. 

All but one of them hailed from New York, New Jersey and California — each a high-tax state. These lawmakers largely opposed the legislation because it curtailed the state and local tax deduction, also known as SALT. The measure caps the deduction for property taxes at $10,000 while eliminating the tax break for state and local income or sales taxes. 

House Approves GOP Tax Overhaul
Thirteen Republicans votes against their leadership’s measure

New York GOP Reps. John J. Faso, Dan Donovan, Lee Zeldin and Peter T. King explain their opposition to the GOP tax overhaul bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Step one complete.

House Republicans on Thursday passed their tax overhaul bill, 227-205, which will now go to the Senate and be used as a vehicle to pass its own measure. Thirteen Republicans voted against the measure; no Democrats voted for the measure. 

Ready or Not, House Republicans Set Vote on Tax Overhaul
But floor delay remains a possibility as GOP leaders wrangle votes

Speaker Paul D. Ryan said the health care debate taught him not to set an “artificial deadline” for passing legislation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The scenario is all too familiar: House Republican leaders schedule a floor vote on a major legislative priority and exude confidence the bill will pass despite a chorus of rank-and-file concern. 

GOP leaders insist the tax overhaul they plan to vote on this week is different from the health care bill they had to pull from the floor this spring. But the reality is they are still wrangling the 218 votes needed to pass their tax measure. A possible repeat scenario of the health care debacle looms.