Katie Niederee, Julia Lawless (202)224-4515
Hatch: ‘Robust and Transparent’ Effort Required For Tax Reform
Utah Senator Says, “The goal of everyone in this body with respect to tax reform ought to be to help the American people by providing tax relief to American families, simplifying the tax system, improving our business tax system to allow American businesses to compete in the global economy, and create stronger growth in the economy, wages, jobs, and opportunity.”
WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor today, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) reiterated the need for comprehensive tax reform and highlighted his commitment to an integrative and transparent process in order to make the nation’s tax code simpler and fairer for all Americans.
“As chairman of the Senate’s tax-writing committee, I am committed to ensuring a robust process in the Senate for developing, considering, and passing any tax reform package. That is how the Senate functions best, and that is what I intend to see happen,” Hatch said. “I have been working to involve all the Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee in this effort. We have a number of great senators on the committee, many of whom have put in years of work on different areas of the tax system.”
Hatch went on to note the importance of presidential leadership on the issue of tax reform and outlined his desire for the effort to be bipartisan, calling on all Senate colleagues– Republican or Democrat – to join in the effort to reform our outdated tax system.
“President Trump has made tax reform one of his top priorities, which is essential. Presidential leadership on tax reform has been sorely lacking in the past,” Hatch said. “I don’t think this process should be limited to just Republican input. I’ve reached out to my Democratic colleagues on the Finance Committee and invited them to participate. Any member of the Senate – from either party – should have an opportunity to express their views and ideas and have them considered as part of this process.”
The complete speech as prepared for delivery is below:
Mr. President, I rise today to once again discuss the ongoing effort to reform our nation’s tax code.
I’ve been coming to the floor regularly to talk about this subject for more than six years now. And, during that time, more and more Americans have recognized the need to fix our broken and outdated tax system. Members of Congress from both parties have similarly acknowledged that, when it comes to our tax code, the status quo is untenable.
President Trump has made tax reform one of his top priorities, which is essential. Presidential leadership on tax reform has been sorely lacking in the past.
Of course, for some, the involvement of the president in this endeavor complicates matters. Indeed, some of my friends on the other side of the aisle are, by all appearances, bound and determined to block passage of any part of President Trump’s agenda, even if, in terms of policy, there is common ground and it’s good for Americans.
Still, I welcome the involvement of the president in this effort and hope that more and more of my colleagues will eventually do the same.
Today, I want to take a few minutes to rebut the growing narrative in the media and elsewhere that tax reform is going to be a secretive exercise, involving the input of only a few key players.
True enough, there have been meetings involving the administration, House and Senate leaders and tax-writers in recent weeks, wherein we’ve been discussing tax reform at a high level in an effort to reach some agreement.
However, while this process may result in an agreed upon framework, this will not be the be-all-end-all of tax reform. On the contrary, as chairman of the Senate’s tax-writing committee, I am committed to ensuring a robust process in the Senate for developing, considering, and passing any tax reform package. That is how the Senate functions best, and that is what I intend to see happen.
Toward that end, I have been working to involve all the Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee in this effort. We have a number of great senators on the committee, many of whom have put in years of work on different areas of the tax system. I think it would be foolish to let that experience and expertise go to waste.
Every Republican on the committee is involved in this process. And, I’ve asked some senators to focus on particular areas.
For example, I’ve asked Senators Enzi and Portman to focus on the international tax system. This issue is essential. Our antiquated international tax system leaves American businesses at a competitive disadvantage and is one of the main drivers behind the stream of inversions and foreign takeovers we’ve seen in recent years. Both of these senators have put in a lot of work on this issue, developing proposals for a better path forward, and some of that development in the past has occurred with substantive input from our Democratic friends. With both Senators Enzi and Portman working on this issue, I think we’ll see significant progress.
In addition, I’ve asked Senator Grassley, a former Finance Committee Chairman himself, to take a look at our individual tax system. I think most of us here in Congress – and not just on the Republican side – would like to see a tax reform bill that reduces the tax burden on middle class individuals and families. I think that Senator Grassley and others will put their experience to good use.
Likewise, Senator Thune has quite a bit of experience and expertise when it comes to the business tax system, and he’s done a lot of work over the years to reform the Estate Tax. So, I’ve asked him to provide his thoughts and advice as we work through those issues.
I’ve asked Senators Heller and Cassidy to work on solutions for energy tax policy.
Similarly, I’ve asked Senator Roberts to find solutions to tax issues relating to agriculture.
There are other issues out there as well. And, over time, I intend to enlist the help of other committee members to focus on particular tax issues and provide advice and assistance on crafting suitable reforms.
So, as you can see, Mr. President, the idea that tax reform is going to be a closed-door exercise is absurd, at least as things pertain to the Senate. Every Republican member of the Finance Committee is involved in this effort.
Of course, we’ll need to go beyond the committee as well. There are members throughout the conference with particular interests and expertise relating to tax policy. Many of my colleagues have introduced bills over the years and have become outspoken advocates on a number of key issues.
I want those members to be involved as well.
And, just to be clear, I don’t think this process should be limited to just Republican input.
I want to see Democrats at the table.
I want a bipartisan process that renders a bipartisan result.
I think the relevant leaders from the administration have said much the same thing.
I’ve reached out to my Democratic colleagues on the Finance Committee and invited them to participate. And, once again, I don’t believe this process has to be limited to the committee. Any member of the Senate – from either party – should have an opportunity to express their views and ideas and have them considered as part of this process. I’m willing to sit down and work with anyone who wants to be a good-faith participant in this endeavor and who wants to ultimately see it succeed. After all, we’ve had years and years of bipartisan efforts, including working groups and reports, to find common ground.
Recently, however, we haven’t been hearing much from our Democratic friends when it comes to tax reform.
We’ve heard some of the usual accusations that Republicans are hell-bent on giving massive tax breaks to the super-wealthy and inflicting some harm or another on the middle class.
We’ve also heard some process demands that some have set as pre-conditions for any real, bipartisan tax reform discussions. All too often, those pre-conditions either reflect lack of willingness to compromise, or outright demands for things that are unrelated to tax reform.
In other words, we’ve heard our colleagues cite a number of reasons as to why they don’t want to work with us on tax reform. And, I suspect that, to some degree this false narrative about secrecy and closed doors on tax reform will be added to the list.
But, I’ll say it again: I am willing to work with anyone – Republican or Democrat – in this effort. And, if anyone doubts my sincerity, I think my record for bipartisanship and compromise should speak for itself.
Long story short, Mr. President, my goal in tax reform is to draft and pass a bill with the broadest possible support and input from all who are interested in helping put our economy on a sustained, higher growth path. To do that, I think we need a vigorous and open debate in the Senate, which, in my view, should include a full process in committee and regular order on the Senate floor.
At the end of this process, no one should be able to credibly claim that they were unable to participate or that they didn’t have enough information about the bill. So, I hope this puts to rest any claims or suppositions that the tax reform process is going to be secretive in nature. Because, if I have my way, this process will be both open and bipartisan.
The goal of everyone in this body with respect to tax reform ought to be to help the American people by providing tax relief to American families, simplifying the tax system, improving our business tax system to allow American businesses to compete in the global economy, and create stronger growth in the economy, wages, jobs, and opportunity.
I hope more of my colleagues will join me in supporting this important effort.
With that, I yield the floor.
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