Using tax legislation to overhaul health care still being discussed, Ryan says

President Trump spoke with House Speaker Paul Ryan during a meeting last week at the White House.
Evan Vucci/Associated Press
President Trump spoke with House Speaker Paul Ryan during a meeting last week at the White House.

WASHINGTON — Republicans are poised to begin debating details of their tax plan this week, but House Speaker Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, signaled Sunday that party leaders are still considering whether to use the proposal to end a central element of the Affordable Care Act.

The House Ways and Means Committee is set to begin reviewing the GOP plan on Monday in public hearings that could extend into Thursday. But significant differences remain, and new proposals could be added.

Ryan said a repeal of the health law’s individual mandate is still up for discussion, while a key New York Republican, Representative Peter King, warned that he and other GOP lawmakers from highly taxed Northeastern states remain opposed to the legislation.


Appearing on ‘‘Fox News Sunday,’’ Ryan said that repealing the individual mandate is ‘‘one of the things that’s being discussed.’’

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‘‘We’re listening to our members about what we can do to add to this bill to make it even better,’’ he added.

Despite the research and Trump’s pleas, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, Republican of Texas, said Friday he is unlikely to add changes to health care policy to the tax legislation, because doing so would doom its chances in the more closely divided Senate.

King said on ABC’s ‘‘This Week’’ that the tax plan as written would have ‘‘a particularly devastating’’ effect on New York, which has some of the highest local and state taxes in the country.

‘‘As of now, I would have to’’ vote against the plan, King said. He also lobbed a veiled shot at the White House, saying that in his Long Island-area swing district, ‘‘The main objection I’m getting is from Trump voters’’ who have voted for Democratic presidents in the past.


‘‘You would have my voters, my constituents subsidizing other states in the country. New York does subsidize the rest of the country already. I just want to work this right now. If it’s worked out, I support almost everything else in the bill,’’ he said.

King was among 20 House Republicans who withheld support for a budget resolution last month that set the rules for the forthcoming tax debate. King and many of the others voted no because GOP leaders were planning to eliminate deductions for state and local taxes. In a bid to win back their support, the bill unveiled last week would allow taxpayers to deduct up to $10,000 in property taxes.

Representative Tom MacArthur, Republican of New Jersey, who also voted against the budget resolution, on Sunday called the $10,000 cap ‘‘a huge win for middle-class taxpayers even in high-tax states like mine.’’

‘‘A $10,000 property tax cap covers the vast majority of people in my state, in my congressional district,’’ he told Fox News Channel’s ‘‘Sunday Morning Futures,’’ adding that he now plans to support the tax plan.

Other conservatives expressed support for the plan.


‘‘Failure is not an option,’’ Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, told ABC, calling the tax plan ‘‘a work in progress’’ that would ultimately lead to long-term economic growth, despite adding $1.5 trillion to the deficit.

‘‘The preliminary numbers really look very good in terms of economic growth,’’ Meadows said, adding that growth will ‘‘outweigh any short-term deficit increase.’’

Another conservative, Senator James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma, said he remains concerned about how much it could add to the debt.

‘‘It’s one thing to be able to cut taxes, it’s another thing to be able to say, ‘How are we going to deal with our debt and deficit?’ So my main focus has been — whatever economic growth model we put in place has to be reasonable to be able to do it,’’ Lankford told NBC’s ‘‘Meet the Press.’’

Ryan said he still expects the House to complete its work on the bill by Thanksgiving, adding, ‘‘We expect our friends in the Senate to be about a week behind us.’’

The Senate is poised to release its own version of a tax overhaul in the coming days, possibly as early as this week. News reports last week suggested that the Senate’s tax plan would propose phasing in a new corporate tax rate of 20 percent over five years instead of immediately.

But in an interview on Fox News, Vice President Mike Pence said the new corporate tax rate ‘‘has to happen immediately. And we’re going to drive and drive hard.’’

‘‘We got to do it quickly so businesses ... will be able to invest growth dollars in wages and hiring more employees,’’ Pence said on ‘‘Sunday Morning Futures.’’

Democrats, meanwhile, rejected the GOP plan. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi of California described it as ‘‘a ‘‘gift to corporate America.’’

‘‘They spread out a banquet for the wealthiest Americans and threw some crumbs to the middle class,’’ Pelosi said on CNN’s ‘‘State of the Union.’’