After taking a blow in their first major policy effort, Republicans quickly signaled they will move on to a plan to broadly chop taxes, another potentially daunting goal.
Following the defeat of his key priority — replacing the Affordable Care Act — President Donald Trump signaled he still has faith in the Republican-controlled government’s ability to push his agenda. Quickly shifting focus from their bill’s failure, GOP leaders said they wanted to start working to overhaul the U.S. tax code, the prospect of which has helped to fuel the business community’s optimism for Trump’s presidency.
“I would say that we will probably start going very, very strongly for the big tax cuts and tax reform. That will be next,” President Donald Trump told reporters in the White House after the GOP failed to rally enough support to pass its health-care plan in the House.
House Republicans on Friday yanked their bill to repeal and replace the ACA, popularly known as Obamacare, just before a planned vote that Trump had demanded. At least 34 Republicans from across the ideological spectrum signaled that they could vote against the plan, according to an NBC News tally, leading the GOP to pull it.
The president said Republicans fell “just a small number of votes short.” After the plan’s failure, both he and House GOP leaders who championed the bill said their focus would shift to taxes.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said Friday’s health-care “setback” makes the prospect of tax reform more difficult but not “impossible.”
“Yes, this does make tax reform more difficult. But it does not, in any way, make it impossible. We will proceed with tax reform,” the Wisconsin Republican told reporters Friday.
Trump said the inability to garner enough votes for the proposal did not make him lose faith in Ryan.
“I like Speaker Ryan. He worked very, very hard,” he said.
Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement he is “moving full speed ahead with President Trump on the first pro-growth tax reform in a generation.”
The House Republican tax plan calls for major cuts to business rates and broad income-tax reductions. It remains to be seen if the GOP will be able to pass true tax reform or just tax cuts.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin repeated his pledge Friday to push for “comprehensive” tax reform by Congress’ August recess.
Ryan said he spoke with Trump, Mnuchin and White House economic advisors about tax reform on Friday.