US House tax committee plans public hearings on tax overhaul

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas).
Getty Images

The tax oversight committee in the U.S. House of Representatives will hold public hearings in coming weeks as the panel prepares to unveil legislation to overhaul the U.S. tax code, congressional aides said on Wednesday.

The plan for hearings emerged during an hour-long meeting between House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady and 15 panel Democrats, according to a House Democratic aide.

There were no details about when the hearings would occur, what tax reform issues would be addressed or whether the full Ways and Means Committee would preside.

"We had a positive and open discussion, and I appreciated the opportunity to engage in a two-way dialog," Brady, a Texas Republican, said in a statement afterward.

The Republican-led committee is expected to unveil tax reform legislation this spring in preparation for a summer vote on the House floor. Committee staff has been working to craft a bill based on a House Republican blueprint that would sharply cut taxes for businesses and individuals.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Wednesday that the House, Senate and White House, all controlled by Republicans, "aren't on the same page yet on tax reform."

Brady announced the bipartisan meeting earlier this week, saying the discussion would focus on ways to simplify the U.S. tax code for individuals and prevent U.S. companies from moving production and research facilities overseas — two Republican objectives.

"It was clear from this meeting we share the same fundamental goals on tax reform, particularly as it relates to growth and simplicity," a Republican committee aide said.

Brady underscored his intention to include a border adjustment tax provision in tax reform legislation, aides said. The policy, which would impose a 20 percent tax on imports, has divided the business community and drawn criticism from Republicans in the House and Senate.

Wednesday's meeting marked the first time Brady sat down with the committee's Democratic members to discuss the House Republican tax reform plan, aides said.

But the bipartisan atmosphere was jarred by the release of a letter from committee Republicans to President Donald Trump, calling for the removal of John Koskinen as Internal Revenue Service commissioner. Koskinen was appointed by former Democratic President Barack Obama.

"Democrats raised this letter with Republicans during the meeting, noting how this type of partisan action hurts the prospects for bipartisanship in other issues, such as working together on issues like tax reform," the Democratic aide said.