House Ways And Means Committee Begins Markup Of Tax Reform Bill

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House Republicans are reconsidering their decision to scrap the adoption tax credit in their tax bill after receiving firm pushback from constituents and religious leaders since the legislation's release last week.

Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio), a senior member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, told Independent Journal Review on Wednesday morning he hopes the adoption tax credit can be preserved, adding that Republicans are working on a possible change to their bill.

“We're working on it internally,” he said of the tax credit.

Ways and Means Republicans killed a Democratic amendment to restore the adoption tax credit during their markup of the bill Tuesday, but Tiberi said there is wide support, nonetheless, for the credit among members of the committee.

Tiberi told IJR that he had heard from many constituents about the issue over the past few days, whose overarching message has been that the adoption tax credit is important.

“I agree,” he said.

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), whose niece is an adoptive parent, also said Republicans are rethinking the provision.

“I know people are looking at it,” he told IJR.

The current text of the GOP tax bill would eliminate the one-time tax credit of $13,750 that adoptive parents can keep under current law. According to The Washington Post, the average adoption costs adoptive parents anywhere from $25,000 to $40,000. The adoption tax credit can help prospective adoptive parents shoulder the burden of those costs.

“The biggest Republican issue is that it might be a tax credit that's more favorable to wealthy people who itemize and not the moderate income folks because we doubled the standard deduction. But I know it's being discussed,” Collins said.

Still, religious leaders who oppose abortion and want to encourage adoption are speaking out against the GOP tax plan.

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, tweeted Wednesday morning that the tax bill is “not pro-life, by any definition of the word.”

“It is shameful that the House tax reform plan still includes the removal of the adoption tax credit,” he said.

Many socially conservative Republicans in Congress have echoed Moore's stance, calling for the preservation of the credit. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) tweeted his thoughts last week: “Being pro-life means being pro-adoption. Congress must remember this as we work through the details of tax reform in the coming weeks.”

Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), who has adopted two children himself, has defended the move, arguing that other tax breaks included in the bill — like the new (and temporary) $300 family credit, expanded child tax credit, and nearly doubled standard deduction — would provide support for families instead.

Other GOP lawmakers have stood by Brady on the issue. Rep. Jason Lewis (R-Minn.) told IJR on Wednesday that those concerned that getting rid of the adoption tax credit might discourage potential adoptive parents “would have to believe that people adopt for the credit.”

“I don't believe that. I think people adopt because of the love in their heart, not because of a credit,” he said.

Republicans plan to, among implementing other benefits for the wealthy, get rid of the estate tax, which John McCormack of The Weekly Standard points out “will cost 50 times more than keeping the adoption tax credit.”

Analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation found that keeping the adoption tax credit would cost $3.8 billion over a decade, representing a drop in the overall bucket of tax reform.

“There is also absolutely no fiscal argument to be made to do away with the adoption tax credit,” Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) told IJR. “I have every conviction that the leadership and this caucus is going to fix it.”

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