As the House prepares to hold its second vote on the final version of the Republican tax plan, Fox Business and Dow Jones Newswires are reporting that President Donald Trump might wait until early next year to sign the bill once it reaches his desk. His reason? By delaying the signing, Trump would effectively push certain spending cuts to programs like Medicare until 2019.
At issue are so-called "pay as you go," or "pay-go," budget rules that could be triggered by deficits in the tax bill. Congressional Republicans are preparing a separate fix to waive the rules after they finish the tax bill. But - given their already jam-packed legislative schedule - if Congress fails to pass the waiver before its year-end recess, one way to delay the cuts would be to wait until January to sign the bill.
If successful, the waiver would likely be attached to Congress's 'continuing resolution' bill that would keep the government funded through Jan. 19.
After the House finishes the Senate-approved version of the tax bill on Wednesday, Congress has to complete work on a bill known as a "continuing resolution," or "CR," to fund the government when current spending provisions expire Friday.
"If we can get 'pay-go' waived in the CR, we will sign the tax bill this year," said Gary Cohn, director of the White House National Economic Council, at an event Wednesday morning hosted by media company Axios. "The president would like to sign the tax bill." Mr. Cohn described the budget rule complication as "a technical issue."
However, Trump needs to be careful: CNBC confirmed that if Trump waits more than 10 days before signing the bill, it will automatically receive a veto.
Colleague John Roberts rpts event at WH won’t be signing of tax bill. Just victory lap. Trump could sign bill next week. Hse/Senate must ok PAYGO waivers which could be an issue. If waivers aren’t ok’d, Trump may delay signing bill until ‘18 so cuts don’t start until ‘19— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) December 20, 2017
To be sure, NEC chief Gary Cohn said lawmakers wouldn't allow funding to lapse after Friday. "We're going to get a CR in the next two days, and Congress is going to be on their way home by the weekend," he said.