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Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference

Who to watch in the tax talks

Top tax writers are closing in on a bipartisan deal to revive some business tax benefits and expand the child tax credit. The question’s now: Is everyone bought in? And can it pass?

As we scooped Monday night, sources close to the talks say negotiators have “90%” of the package done and are working on nailing down the last few policy details.

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.) and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) are spearheading talks. But we’re watching in the coming days for where Senate Republicans in particular land on this deal.

Hill sources told us Monday it’s unclear if senior Senate Republicans — including Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) — will back the potential agreement. Crapo is in line to become chair of the panel if Republicans win the Senate this year, giving him a shot to negotiate his own expansive tax package.

The other wrench to watch: Speaker Mike Johnson is facing internal pushback over his handling of the funding talks, as we detailed above. And House leadership is exceedingly skeptical a tax deal can get done in this political climate anyway.

Plus, lawmakers have government funding deadlines to worry about and other pressing priorities like border negotiations. And the House Republican Conference is a bit of a dumpster fire right now with two votes to spare on anything.

So it’s still a huge question mark whether an agreement could pass the House in the coming weeks, even with Senate buy-in.

What’s next: House Ways and Means Committee staff plan to walk GOP panel members through the parameters of the deal on Wednesday.

There’s a big push now from the committees’ top lawmakers to get this done so the package has a shot of passing before we’re in the thick of tax season — which kicks off Jan. 29.

“I’ve been at this issue of the tax agreement for 18 months now, and we’re honing in on a very specific target which is to get this done in time for filing season,” Wyden said. “I’m going to pull out all the stops.”

Everyone in the negotiating room understands that urgency, according to one source close to the talks.

— Laura Weiss and Jake Sherman

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