House Republicans have charted a course for expedited tax reforms next year in case they control Congress and the White House.
They introduced a bill Tuesday that would alter congressional rules to streamline the procedures for enacting tax reforms (see House GOP Offers Bill to Expedite Tax Reform Procedures). The bill, known as the Pathway to Job Creation through a Simpler, Fairer Tax Code Act of 2012, includes expedited procedures to allow lawmakers in both the House and Senate to overcome multiple technical hurdles that often cause bills to languish during the legislative process. On Thursday, they laid out an approximate timetable for how they might implement sweeping tax reforms under the proposed legislation.
By the end of April, the Ways and Means Committee chairman would introduce a comprehensive tax reform proposal. Provisions would include Republican priorities that the House passed in the previous two budgets: consolidation of the current tax brackets into only two tax brackets, with a top rate of 25 percent for individuals; reduction of the corporate tax rate to a maximum of 25 percent; repeal of the alternative minimum tax, broadening of the tax base to maintain revenue between 18 and 19 percent of gross domestic product; and a territorial system of taxation as opposed to a worldwide system.
By May 20, the Ways and Means Committee would need to report out the tax reform legislation or the bill would be discharged (a way to get a bill out of a committee that refuses to refer it to the full House or Senate by using a discharge petition). By early June, the Rules Committee would report out a rule for considering the tax reform legislation. Otherwise the Majority Leader, or another member within two legislative days, would be able to offer a motion to proceed on the bill.
If the motion was agreed to, floor debate would be limited to four hours equally divided between the two parties. The bill would be subject to amendment under a five-minute rule, with one motion to recommit allowed.
By early to mid-June, the Senate would receive the bill from the House and refer it to the Senate Finance Committee. The Finance Committee would be required to report out the tax reform bill within 15 calendar days or the bill would be discharged by early July.
By the end of July, after the tax reform bill has been either reported or discharged, the Senate Majority Leader, or any other senator after two more legislative days, would be able to offer a motion to proceed to the bill. That motion would not be debatable and cloture (the ability to cut off debate and overcome a filibuster) would not be required before a vote on the motion to proceed. There would be a two-hour limit to debate on each amendment and cloture would not be required before individual amendments could be voted upon. Nevertheless, in a nod to Senate traditions, cloture on the underlying bill might still be required before a final vote on the tax reform legislation. Thus, there would be only one 60-vote threshold to overcome rather than multiple thresholds and only after the Senate had debated the bill and the various amendments.
The proposal to expedite congressional rules also includes procedures to facilitate a conference committee in August, in case there are differences between the House and Senate versions of whatever comprehensive tax reform legislative emerged from both chambers. The bill also has procedures for the appointment of conferees who would work on ironing out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the tax reform legislation.