Ryan on tax reform: Lawmakers will work through Christmas if necessary

Paul Ryan AP FBN

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said on Thursday morning that lawmakers may be required to forego Christmas recess in order to complete tax reform before year’s end.

“We’re going to keep everybody here through Christmas if we have to,” Speaker Ryan said during an interview with The Heritage Foundation. “I mean, I don’t care, we have got to get this done … it’s just that important.”

Ryan added that the GOP is actually on schedule to meet its December deadline, after the House of Representatives and a Senate committee passed the budget resolution last week. The measure is expected to move through the wider Senate next week, according to Ryan, and is a critical piece of the tax reform puzzle because it contains the “revenue line” for tax reform, as well as the reconciliation mandate. After the budget resolution is adopted, the House Ways and Means Committee can introduce the tax reform bill and the GOP expects to move that over to the Senate sometime in November.

Despite divisions within the Republican Party over specific proposals in the bill, such as the elimination of state and local tax deductions and how it will be paid for, Ryan said conservatives are “as unified about this” as they have been about “anything else [he’s] ever seen.” Though the Speaker also noted he had no “illusions” about how challenging tax reform would be.

Some experts and investors are skeptical about the Republican Party’s ability to pass a tax plan in the wake of its failure to coalesce around one of various proposed efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act this summer. Ryan said he expected tax reform to be simpler because the entire bill can be approved through reconciliation, while only pieces of health care could be pushed through using the fast-track process due to regulatory constrictions.

“This is a ‘one and done’ effort,” he said.