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Speaker Mike Johnson

Johnson still mulling tax deal amid GOP gripes

Speaker Mike Johnson hasn’t made up his mind about whether to support the bipartisan tax package approved by a key committee last week.

The reason? Grumbling from some of his members about the deal, according to sources familiar with the situation.

The House Ways and Means Committee gave a strong, bipartisan vote of approval Friday to a bill written by Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.) and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to expand the child tax credit and revive some business tax breaks. There were no Republican defections.

But it’s not tax panel lawmakers who are the potential problems here.

One frustrated group is vulnerable, blue state Republicans who’ve repeatedly tried to make a stand on a key campaign issue back home — raising the $10,000 cap on deducting state and local taxes.

Some of these lawmakers are worked up about the bill lacking so-called SALT relief, we’re told, particularly given how politically potent it is in their swing districts.

Feeling SALTy: The snag? Plenty of Republicans like the $10,000 cap and would even cut SALT deductions off entirely. The deduction’s popularity looms largest in high-cost-of-living, suburban areas in New York, New Jersey and California. It’s been tough for both sides of the aisle to avoid member revolts on SALT.

Johnson has spoken with Smith about the package, and it has gained steam with Democrats who would be crucial to any floor vote under suspension of the rules.

But even beyond the vote count, Johnson may have other considerations at a fragile time for his speakership. Johnson has the slimmest GOP majority in decades to contend with, plus a right flank unhappy with his maneuvers on government funding. Johnson could be wary of dealing with too much of a headache on the tax bill.

— Laura Weiss and Jake Sherman

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