GOP Rep. Kevin Brady, top House tax writer for Trump cuts, will retire at end of term

Key Points
  • Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said he is retiring from Congress at the end of his term.
  • Brady, who was House Ways and Means Committee chairman, took a leading role in pushing former President Trump's sweeping tax-cut bill through Congress in 2017.
  • Brady faced a term limit on his role as the Republican leader of the committee — and said that fact weighed on his decision to retire.
Chairman of the House Ways and Means Kevin Brady
Joshua Roberts | Reuters

Rep. Kevin Brady, the Texas Republican who took a leading role in pushing former President Donald Trump's sweeping tax-cut bill through Congress in 2017, said Wednesday he is retiring from Congress.

"I'm retiring as your congressman," Brady announced in a speech during an economic conference hosted by the Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce. "This term, my 13th, will be my last."

Brady, 66, served as the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, the top tax-writing body in the chamber, for two terms. He became the ranking Republican on the panel in 2019, after Democrats took majority control of the House.

Brady faced a term limit on his role as the Republican leader of the committee — and said that fact weighed on his decision to retire.

"Because House Republicans limit committee leadership to six years, I won't be able to chair the Ways and Means Committee in the next session when Republicans win back the majority," Brady said.

"Did that factor into the decision? Yeah, some."

But Brady said he still sees those limits as a "good thing" because they "ensure lawmakers who work hard and who work effectively someday have the opportunity to lead, to bring fresh new ideas to every committee we have."

Brady, anticipating questions from those curious about his motive for retiring, also said he was "absolutely not" leaving Congress because he has "lost faith in a partisan Congress and the political system."

"After 25 years in the nation's Capitol I haven't yet seen a problem we can't solve or move past. Not one."

He added: "Given the times, I'm sure some will say, 'It's Trump's fault.' Nonsense."

Brady's highest-profile moment in Congress came in 2017, when the committee he led took responsibility for crafting the tax-cutting legislation that Trump had promised on the campaign trail and pushed for during his first year in office.

The nearly 200-page, $1.5 trillion tax bill slashed taxes for corporations, trimmed rates for individuals and tweaked rules for tax deductions.

Trump signed the legislation on Dec. 22, 2017. Republicans said the tax overhaul would boost hiring and business investment and put more money in Americans' pockets, while Democrats said the changes disproportionately helped corporations and the richest earners. Critics also took aim at the huge burden the bill was projected to add to federal budget deficits.

Trump himself said before signing the bill into law that the corporate cuts were "probably the biggest factor" in the plan.

More than three years later, the impact of the law remains a heated source of debate. Supporters, especially those in the Trump White House, credited the cuts with creating a strong labor force that was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. Detractors say the bill ballooned the deficit to provide a fleeting stimulus.

The bill marked Trump's signature legislative achievement during his one term in office. Brady in a statement Wednesday touted the cuts, saying they "lifted millions of Americans out of poverty, and gave hope to so many the old tax code had left behind."

"America recaptured the title as the most competitive economy in the world, bringing manufacturing jobs and investment back home to America from overseas," Brady's statement said.

Brady, now in his 25th year in Congress, said in the statement, "I'll leave Congress the way I entered it, with the absolute belief that we are a remarkable nation – the greatest in history."

"The American Dream is still alive and well for anyone willing to work for it until it's theirs. That is why I remain optimistic about our country, because I have faith in our people," he said. "I've seen up close how remarkable you are, and while I am leaving Congress I am excited about our future."