Carper on tax change process: ‘This is not regular order’

Listen 0:37
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., joined at left by Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., objects strongly to the procedures as tax bill conferees gather to work on the sweeping GOP plan, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., joined at left by Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., objects strongly to the procedures as tax bill conferees gather to work on the sweeping GOP plan, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Frustrations with the way Republicans are moving forward with their tax plan overflowed Wednesday as Democrats like Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware called the process “a farce.”

Members of the Senate and House met Wednesday to reconcile each chamber’s version of the Republican’s tax plan, but Democrats were very unhappy with the way the conference committee was run. About halfway through the meeting, an angry Sen. Carper raised his voice to protest the process which prevented Democrats from offering amendments to the committee report.

“This is not regular order,” Carper called out, interrupting committee chairman U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas. “This is not the kind of conference committee I grew up with. We actually had the text of the bill before us. We had the opportunity to offer Democratic and Republican amendments together. That is regular order.”

In reply, Brady told Carper he’d have the opportunity to disagree with the committee’s report after it was finished. Carper interrupted Brady again saying the way he was running the committee was not regular order. Brady responded by telling Carper he was out of order. “We’re going to respect each other,” Brady said. “I’m not the only one out of order,” Carper shouted back.

“This whole process has been a farce,” Carper said in a statement following the dustup. “House and Senate Republicans have rushed through bills that create temporary tax breaks for individuals, with benefits for lower- and middle-income families that phase out over the next year.” Carper said the tax changes will ensure that wealthy shareholders and executives will get a bigger cut of corporate profits at the expense lower income families.

The business tax cuts would be permanent, but reductions for individuals would expire after a decade — saving money to comply with Senate budget rules. In all, the bill would cut taxes by about $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years, adding billions to the nation’s mounting debt.

The legislation, still being finalized, would cut the top tax rate for the wealthiest earners — Trump among them — from 39.6 percent to 37 percent, slash the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and allow homeowners to deduct interest only on the first $750,000 of a new mortgage.
The top tax rate currently applies to income above $470,000 for married couples, though lawmakers are reworking the tax brackets. The standard deduction would be nearly doubled, to $24,000 for married couples.

Details of the agreement were described by Republican senators and congressional aides. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly discuss private negotiations.
—-
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.