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Sen. Mike Crapo

Crapo pans Wyden-Smith tax bill to GOP colleagues

The Wyden-Smith tax bill is in deep trouble.

The Senate Finance Committee’s top Republican, Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho, told GOP colleagues privately on Wednesday that he doesn’t want to pass a tax bill this year, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the conversation.

Crapo spoke about persistent problems with the legislation after negotiations on the Wyden-Smith deal broke down last week.

Crapo’s remarks came during Republicans’ weekly policy lunch on Wednesday. According to one attendee, Crapo made a “chopping” motion with his hand while declaring he wouldn’t do a deal with Democrats on taxes this year.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told Republicans at the lunch that he hopes they’ll back Crapo’s position on the tax bill, according to the sources. It’s no shocker that McConnell is supporting the Finance Committee’s top Republican on this. The two are close allies. But it underscores the pressure on GOP senators to remain united against the bill.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) also spoke up against the tax bill and its child tax credit expansion during the lunch, according to two sources.

Romney’s opposition is especially notable because he’s been a leading GOP voice in favor of expanding the child credit and has suggested bipartisan deal-making to do it. But Romney also prefers his own plan, which includes pay-fors that Democrats wouldn’t support.

Stalled talks: The bleak GOP lunch talk came after Crapo and Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) traded offers for changes to the tax bill in an attempt to address Senate GOP concerns. The bill, which expands the child tax credit and restores key business tax breaks, sailed through the House.

But Wyden and Crapo both rejected each other’s proposals last week. That’s left a standoff that’s souring the situation even further.

Democrats offered to swap out a piece of the bill allowing families to use prior-year earnings to claim the child tax credit. But that didn’t go far enough for Senate Republicans to lend their support, according to two sources familiar with the negotiations.

The Wyden-Smith deal has been stalled in the Senate for weeks. It has support from most Democrats, but only a few Republicans have publicly backed it.

Tax bill’s final play: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer put the House bill on the Senate’s legislative calendar Wednesday night, a necessary procedural step before taking any action on it. But doing so doesn’t necessarily mean that Schumer will eventually try to bring it up.

Schumer has been supportive of the bill, but he likely won’t try to advance it unless there’s sufficient GOP support to help clear the 60-vote threshold. It’s not clear that there would be enough Republican votes to overcome Crapo’s objections.

The bill’s backers had hoped for it to be attached to a separate legislative vehicle to smooth the Senate process. Now a floor vote appears to be the only possible path.

There’s no hard deadline for the tax bill, and hopes are already dimming. The bill’s prospects will only get worse with tax filing season ending soon.

— Laura Weiss, Andrew Desiderio and John Bresnahan

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.

Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.