Orrin Hatch denies that Bob Corker pushed for tax provision that would help him personally

Key Points
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch says Bob Corker did not personally push for a tax provision that would benefit the Tennessee Republican.
  • He says implications that the measure was added at the last minute are false.
  • Corker previously wrote a letter to Hatch asking how the provision was included in the final bill.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
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Sen. Orrin Hatch on Monday strongly denied that Sen. Bob Corker pushed for a measure in the final GOP tax plan that would personally help the Tennessee Republican and President Donald Trump.

Hatch, a Republican from Utah and head of the Senate's tax-writing committee, called it "categorically false" to imply that lawmakers added the provision at the last minute to appease Corker. In a letter to Corker, Hatch wrote that the provision was included in the House-passed bill and said his colleague did not personally advocate for it.

"It takes a great deal of imagination — and likely no small amount of partisanship — to argue that a provision that has been public for over a month, debated on the floor of the House of Representatives, included in a House-passed bill, and identified by [Joint Committee on Taxation] as an issue requiring a compromise between conferees is somehow a covert and last-minute addition to the conference report," Hatch wrote in the letter dated Monday.

The piece of the joint GOP plan related to so-called pass-through businesses gives a tax break to some people in the real estate business. Under those entities, owners pay individual tax rates on business income. Corker, who will not run for re-election next year, owns properties in Tennessee.

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Skepticism focused on the provision when Corker committed to backing the final bill after opposing the Senate plan due to fears about increasing budget deficits. Changes in the final bill made no significant difference in the roughly $1.4 trillion the GOP tax cuts are expected to add to budget deficits over a decade.

An International Business Times report raised questions about why Corker decided to support the proposal.

The senator from Tennessee previously sent a letter to Hatch asking how the provision came to be included in the final bill. Corker's office has said he "requested no specific tax provisions throughout the monthslong debate and had no knowledge of the pass-through provision in question."