Republican leaders are confident they have the votes to pass their once-in-a-generation tax reform bill in the House this week.
There was little arm-twisting over the weekend, multiple sources close to leadership told POLITICO. And unlike with the Obamacare repeal effort earlier this year, when leaders made final-hour tweaks to win over resistant members, Speaker Paul Ryan’s team doesn’t intend to make significant changes to the legislation before the vote this time.
“I think they’ve made the calculation that they have 218,” Rep. Peter King said in a Saturday phone interview.
The New York Republican, currently a “no” on the bill, said he hasn’t heard from leadership in more than two weeks. Fellow New York Rep. Dan Donovan, another GOP opponent of the legislation, said the same.
The lack of outreach to GOP holdouts suggests leadership feels good about the level of support in the conference — though the Republican whip team won’t officially count votes until Monday night.
Passage in the House this week would be a big boon to the tax reform effort after widespread skepticism that Republicans could shepherd legislation through the chamber by Thanksgiving, as they had promised. The Senate — where the GOP has a slim margin and the tax bill is markedly different from the House’s — remains a bigger obstacle.
“In the end, I think what you’re going to see is the House pass a bill,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said Sunday on “Fox & Friends.” He added that GOP leaders hope to “pass the bill hopefully by the end of the week and then let the Senate go do their job.”
The bill is expected to go to the House Rules Committee on Wednesday, where no amendments will be made except for perhaps a few technical corrections, GOP sources said. Republicans intend to hold a floor vote Thursday but are keeping Friday open in case any problems crop up this week.
Leadership’s confidence could be misplaced. Some Republicans worry that Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) defection on the bill last week could trigger an exodus of other California Republicans.
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), for one, has been emphasizing to leadership since January that the bill must preserve the state and local tax deduction, which relieves a financial burden for people from high-tax states. It’s possible that “with Issa going over, that could make a few of the California people nervous,” said one Republican lawmaker.