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Mike Crapo in opposition to tax bill.

GOP senators say they’re exploring path to yes on tax bill

The top Senate GOP tax writer says he has a mission. He’s working to pin down exactly what would swing the majority of his conference to back the Wyden-Smith tax deal.

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), the Finance panel’s ranking member, huddled with committee members on Wednesday evening to check in on where they stand after a nearly two-week recess and define potential GOP demands.

“There’s a very strong feeling in our caucus that we don’t want to move without having it at least be a majority position in the caucus,” Crapo said leaving the meeting.

Crapo would vote against the bill without changes, and he’s not alone. But some other Finance Republicans have emphasized publicly that they hope to find a path to passing the bill from Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.).

After the meeting, Senate Minority Whip John Thune also echoed the goal would be to see if a majority of Republicans can get to yes on the tax bill.

Republicans “obviously have a lot of people who are very independent thinkers, but… we’re having good conversations and trying to get on the same page,” Thune said.

On GOP concerns, Crapo said they range from issues with what’s in the bill to requests for additions to process questions. He noted the low-income housing tax credit got tucked into the package, which was a priority of Senate Democrats, and said Republicans have “a lot of issues” they’d like to see addressed given the shot at a tax bill.

Crapo outlined his key problems with the bill in a statement on Wednesday, pointing to a provision allowing families to use prior-year earnings to qualify for child tax credit benefits and boosts to refundability of the credit. Fellow Senate Republicans have echoed issues with the prior-year income allowance in particular, arguing it undermines the benefit’s tie to work. Crapo also raised concerns about granting benefits for 2023 this far into tax filing season.

Wyden told reporters in response to Crapo’s statement that the IRS has said it can make changes quickly to implement the bill for 2023. Wyden added that he and Smith had already made accommodations for some GOP concerns about the child tax credit expansion, and that he didn’t believe they’d lead people to give up work.

Here’s the tough part: Significantly changing those pieces of the child tax credit expansion could risk Democrats’ support for the deal. Cutting out 2023 benefits would likely sink it.

So we’ll see if this shakes loose any sort of progress in the Senate. But there’s not too much longer – maybe weeks – for senators to get on the same page before time runs out to realistically get this passed.

“We’ve got policy issues and process issues, and we’re working to get there,” Crapo said. “I’m hopeful that we will get there. But I’m not going to give any timelines or whatever as to when we’ll be able to.”

Meanwhile in climate politics: The Securities and Exchange Commission has scheduled a meeting to vote on the final version of its climate disclosure rule. Mark your calendars for March 6.

— Laura Weiss and Brendan Pedersen

Presented by The Coalition to Project American Jobs

It’s taking the IRS years to process a small business tax credit. 1M+ small business owners who filed for the Employee Retention Credit are stuck in backlog or waiting on payment for their claims. Tell the IRS to lift the moratorium now.

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