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Josh Hawley

A new wrinkle for the tax bill

The Senate is back, and jockeying over the Wyden-Smith tax bill is ramping up with time running short for the package to gain traction.

Here’s a new wrinkle: Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who has said he’s “favorably disposed” toward the tax package, is now floating the idea of attaching it to his big-ticket bill reauthorizing a compensation program for radiation victims. RECA, as it’s known, got 69 votes in the Senate last month.

Hawley told us Monday night that he would vote for the tax bill with RECA attached. The Missouri Republican believes this could be the difference-maker for some of his GOP colleagues.

“At this point, combining the tax bill with RECA looks to be the only way to get this done,” Hawley said. “I know it will get my vote.”

RECA has been Hawley’s top legislative priority, so it makes sense for him to push for this.

But the big question, of course, is whether something like this could move enough Republicans to the “yes” column to give the tax bill 60 votes. There are several other GOP senators whose votes could be in play, but it’s important to remember that Democrats would probably need at least 10 Republicans here.

Of course, that would mean bucking both Senate Finance Committee ranking member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. And some current tax bill backers voted against RECA, so the math could be tricky.

If enough Republicans join forces with Hawley here, that could theoretically push Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to combine the two measures. But it would be up to Hawley to show that he has the requisite support among Senate Republicans for this.

Another reason why this is an interesting move by Hawley? Crapo is a big supporter of RECA, and his state stands to benefit significantly from the program.

It’s also worth noting that this latest push underscores how badly jammed up the Wyden-Smith bill is. Hawley had offered some public praise — in particular for the bill’s child tax credit expansion — so it’s notable that he’s making an explicit ask.

Pressure is on: Meanwhile, backers are looking to make a push for the tax bill this work period. Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden said there will be “a full-court press” over the next two weeks to get it passed.

Wyden added he’ll be talking about how the legislation would help people struggling right now, pointing to small businesses that need tax incentives in the bill and families benefiting from the child tax credit.

Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), a supporter, told us he plans to approach GOP colleagues who’ve signaled an openness to the bill to take their temperature on it post-recess. Young is a lead backer of the bill’s benefit for businesses’ research and development spending.

— Andrew Desiderio and Laura Weiss

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