Columns

GOP Chairman: Party Could 'Very Easily' Lose House Majority if Tax Reform Fails

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) speaks during a news conference at the Capitol on April 21, 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

WASHINGTON – House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) told PJM that the Republicans could “very easily” lose control of the House of Representatives if tax reform fails to pass out of Congress.

Chabot was asked how not being able to pass a tax reform bill would affect the Republican Party.

“Well, the most important effect is the effect that it would have on the American people and the American economy, which what a missed opportunity if we don’t get it done. The American people deserve a whole lot better than what they are getting under the existing tax code, and the economy would have a tremendous boost,” he said Tuesday during an interview on Capitol Hill.

“Now, as far as what it would mean to the Republican Party, I think we could very easily lose the House, for example, if we don’t pass this –especially after Congress overall failed miserably in repealing Obamacare,” the chairman added. “We passed it in the House, but they could not get their act together in the Senate and pass it there. And people look at Congress as an institution. They don’t look at it as the House and the Senate, so if the House succeeds and the Senate fails, Congress failed.”

Chabot said Republicans stand a greater chance of losing control of the lower chamber than the Senate in midterm elections.

“That’s the irony of this: The House is in more jeopardy than the Senate just because of the states that are up next year, and so I think the House is more vulnerable than the Senate is – although the fault will be on the Senate,” he said. “I think in most people’s minds, they will not look at whether the House did its job or whether the Senate did. They are just going to say Congress failed.”

Republicans currently hold the majority in the House with 239 seats out of 435. GOPs have 52 seats in the Senate compared to the Democrats, who hold 46. There are two independent senators who caucus with the Democratic Party.

The current version of the Republican tax reform plan keeps the highest individual tax rate of 39.6 percent in place but creates three new tax brackets at 12 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent. Chabot said he currently supports the tax reform legislation introduced last week.

“I anticipate that I will be supporting it. I think it’s important we reform the tax code and cut taxes for the vast majority of the American people, as I think this bill does. I think it’s likely it will change somewhat before it gets to the floor of the House,” he said. “I think it will probably change substantially by the time it makes its way through the Senate, if it makes its way through the Senate. So I think the bill you see now could be very different from the bill at the end of this process.”

Chabot said he doubts Republican leaders are going to be able to get any Democratic votes for their tax reform plan.

“Generally, if you’ve got enough votes for it to pass without any Democratic support then you will have maybe a handful that will jump on board and then try to sell the point that they were instrumental in this and how important it was, how it was bipartisan, that sort of thing,” he said. “But I am not optimistic you are going to have much Democratic input where it really matters.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the floor this morning that the bill “was constructed entirely behind closed doors by the majority party, who have no intention of negotiating with Democrats because they’ve locked themselves into a partisan process that only requires a majority vote.”

“And they’re going to try to rush it through this chamber with reckless speed,” Schumer added.

Chabot hopes the tax reform bill makes its way through the House before Thanksgiving and the Senate by Christmas.

“That’s the goal,” he stressed. “Now, I also thought we were going to be able to repeal and replace Obamacare and I thought that the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cincinnati Reds were going to go to the World Series and the Super Bowl. I’ve been wrong on other things before.”