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Mike Johnson

After long day of negotiations, Johnson bringing tax bill to the floor

Breaking news: Speaker Mike Johnson is finally bringing the nearly $80 billion bipartisan tax bill to the floor today, ending a prolonged negotiation with angry New York Republicans.

The New Yorkers — the House Republicans’ majority makers — pressed Johnson to change the bipartisan, bicameral tax bill to include relief from the $10,000 state-and-local-tax deduction.

But at this juncture, it appears as if Johnson is going ahead with the legislation unamended.

The tax bill was negotiated by House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.) and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) over months of talks. It pairs business tax breaks with an expansion of the child tax credit.

If the bill moves forward as it was written by Smith and Wyden, it is expected to pass the House by a large margin. Since it’s coming up under suspension, it will need a two-thirds majority for passage.

However, nothing is ever a done deal in the 118th Congress. At this juncture, the bill can only be amended by Smith himself.

The larger dynamic: For Johnson, this episode, in many ways, is a preview of what he faces over the next month. On Day 97 of Johnson’s speakership, Johnson had to deal with a test that, in miniature, lays bare the challenges of managing a 219-Republican House majority with a diverse set of lawmakers acting on different incentives.

Johnson was conducting shuttle diplomacy, shifting from his Capitol office to the Homeland Security Committee, trying to balance the political and legislative priorities of one clutch of the caucus with another, all with a key Republican goal in the balance.

This week, it was relatively low stakes. Johnson’s effort on the tax bill was designed to assuage these New Yorkers, who many believe have been used and abused by the leadership.

But during the next month, Johnson will have a far more herculean challenge: threading the needle in the conference on a government funding package that will be heavily skewed toward Democrats.

Tuesday’s drama: In an uncharacteristic episode, four moderate New York Republicans threatened to take down an unrelated rule Tuesday over the latest push to get relief from the SALT cap into the bipartisan tax package. That kicked off a series of meetings for Johnson into the night.

SALT supporters and House Freedom Caucus members met with Johnson, Majority Whip Tom Emmer and Smith Tuesday evening, before additional smaller huddles.

Asked whether there was a solution on SALT that the broader GOP conference could accept, Emmer said after the initial meeting: “There might be.”

One option that came up during that meeting was moving a separate bill in parallel to the tax package that would address New Yorker and HFC concerns together, according to a source familiar with the discussion.

That bill could pair more SALT deductions with something to address HFC complaints about the child tax credit, in particular possibly requiring parents to have a Social Security number to get benefits on top of the current rule that children do, according to the source. That sort of new restriction on access to the family benefit would be unlikely to find support from Democrats, who control the Senate, but this wouldn’t be in the bipartisan tax package itself.

— Laura Weiss and Jake Sherman

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