U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan met late on Monday with top members of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team to discuss their 2017 tax reform agenda.
The high-level meeting, which took place over Italian food in Ryan’s Capitol Hill office, was described by Republican aides as the latest in a series of discussions and focused on details on Ryan’s “Better Way” tax reform blueprint.
Ryan, his policy staff and more than a half-dozen members of the president-elect’s transition team attended, including Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, Treasury Secretary-nominee Steven Mnuchin, incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus, incoming chief strategist Stephen Bannon and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.
One Republican aide described tax reform as a priority issue for the incoming administration and the House, noting that this year’s legislative effort will be led by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, who did not attend Monday’s meeting.
Trump and Ryan agree that tax reform should reduce tax rates for individuals and businesses, do away with longstanding tax loopholes and broaden the tax base in order to drive U.S. economic growth.
The House Republican blueprint, seen by tax experts and lobbyists as a possible framework for future tax reform legislation, includes a border-adjustment measure that could satisfy Trump’s interest in promoting U.S. manufacturing by taxing imports while exempting export revenues from corporate taxation.
After weeks of ongoing discussions, the two sides may still need to bridge differences in some areas, including whether to continue taxing U.S. corporate profits earned abroad.
There have also been differences on tax rates. Trump would slash the 35 percent corporate tax rate to 15 percent, while the House blueprint would cut the rate to 20 percent.
Aides could not say whether Monday’s meeting brought the two sides closer to agreement on a tax reform bill. Lobbyists believe an initial legislative package could surface in the House before the end of February.
(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)