House Ways And Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady On Why No Repeal Yet Of The Medical Device Tax
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HH: I’m joined now by Kevin Brady, Congressman extraordinaire from the 8th Congressional district in Texas. My listeners on KNTH-1070 in Houston know Congressman Brady. Congressman, first off, I hope everyone is safe in the Capitol. It’s good to know that they’ve got a suspect arrested in these ricin letter cases.
KB: Yeah, is that was the announcement was this afternoon?
HH: Yeah, yeah.
KB: Yeah, we were swamped, so I didn’t get a chance to see much of the news or much online, either, as well.
HH: Did any of it impact? I mean, did it change the functioning of the House today?
HH: Okay, I’m glad to hear that.
KB: No, it didn’t. You know, there’s been extra security. They’ve been removing the trash cans and other things around the Capitol, but no, business as usual.
HH: Well, great. Now Congressman, I’m hoping it’s not business as usual on Ways And Means, where you’re the chairman of the powerful Health Subcommittee. I had a chance to talk to Erik Paulsen last week.
HH: He’s got more than enough votes to pass a clean repeal bill of the medical device tax. When’s it coming?
KB: Well, hopefully soon. There’s two, you talked with Erik, who’s doing an amazing job. And there’s strong bipartisan support. And the Senate vote was hugely, hugely helpful. You know, now we just need to get it to the President’s desk. And the way you do that, one of two ways. You do it through fundamental tax reform, which we hope is sooner rather than later, or the simpler, faster way would be to have the head of the Senate Democrats, Harry Reid, simply agree with Chairman Dave Camp that this needs to move, and can do so without the shenanigans, because my fear is we know if we send a tax bill to the Senate, what they’ll do with it, that that then kills the medical device tax, which is what we want to repeal. So what we really want to do is an agreement, a legislative agreement, to move the bill separately. That’s how I think we do it sooner.
HH: Now Mr. Chairman, with all due respect, all I can do is speak for me and the people listening to this show. Regular order is what we were expecting at the beginning of this session, which to me means that you guys pass good bills, and you send them to the Senate, and then you let the Senate do with them what they ought to do, and if they pass something different, you go to conference and you come to it. I do not like us waiting. In fact, I’ve got, I’m getting very exercised over the fact that we’re waiting to do a secret deal with Harry Reid.
KB: No, Hugh, it’s not a secret deal. It’s simply a recognition that we are not going to send over a tax bill that gets hijacked for a lot of politics, and at the end of the day doesn’t repeal the device tax, which is what our goal is. And so all this is, is a recognition that this issue, because of its impact on jobs and innovation, it’s important enough not to be played political games with.
HH: But that’s…
KB: And I agree with the Chairman on this, that if we just, as has happened before, when you send over innocuous bills, and they then get hijacked by other purposes, the original bill dies. And that’s what we don’t want to have happen.
HH: Now Congressman, what it sounds to me like is that is itself a political game. Now David Drucker at Roll Call has reported, and I have confirmed it myself with sources on the Hill, the reason this bill is not moving is because Chairman Camp does not want to endanger comprehensive tax reform. And he is working diligently with Max Baucus, about which I have great concerns anyway, but he does not want, and his staff has told Drucker, they do not want to move a bill that is a stand-alone. I’ve also been told that Leader Cantor is going to roll him in two months, after the anger will have built to such a massive point that we will not get back the damage being done to the Republican brand, because every day that that tax stays in place, we lose real jobs and real investment. So my appeal to you is break the logjam and send that bill over, because Republicans right now are obstructing tax repeal.
KB: I disagree with that in almost everything you said there. And not that you don’t have great sources, all that chatter may well be going on. What I know is that we would not have moved repeal and made this the key issue but for Chairman Dave Camp. He’s made it very clear to us he wants that tax repealed now. But he needs assurance that this will not be used for other tax issues unrelated to it, and then ultimately, the repeal dies.
HH: Mr. Chairman, though…
KB: So again, he’s made it clear that he’s certainly going to repeal it in comprehensive tax reform. So I think you’ve got the wrong target.
HH: No, I don’t. I really don’t, because comprehensive tax reform has no chance of passing this Congress. But more importantly…
KB: Well, and I would respectfully disagree with you on that as well.
HH: I know you do, but, and God bless you if you can get it out of committee and get it over to the Senate. But if you can’t stop medical device tax from being hijacked, you can’t stop comprehensive tax reform from being hijacked. Mitch McConnell has said send me a clean bill. If you don’t, that means you don’t trust the Republicans to be able to run their own side in the Senate. And it’s a secret deal. Mr. Chairman, there’s no other way. What you’re outlining is a secret negotiation as opposed to regular order.
KB: Only to have the majority leader and the minority leader of the Senate together say if you send us a complete repeal cleanly, we will pass it cleanly. Just standing up publicly and saying that, that regular order will occur, it will go through the committee, the House, the Senate committee in the Senate, and they will not attach God knows what to it. Well, that seems to me that’s about as open and public as you can get.
HH: Chairman Brady, that is not Constitutional regular order. I’ve been teaching this for 15 years. I know you’ve been in the Congress longer than that. But regular order is the House passes its tax bill, and the Senate can do whatever they want.
HH: And so if we’ve got a majority of Republicans who want a repeal, a majority of congressmen who want to repeal a tax, send it over. That’s regular order, and that’s what we were promised. This is really, if you guys had campaigned on saying hey, we’re going to sit around and not do anything until we have a deal with Harry Reid, people would have insisted on a change in leadership.
KB: Well, and I will tell you what, I don’t see it, I just don’t see it that way. I wish things up here worked like they did in the textbook, but they don’t. And to me, it seems like having leaders in a bipartisan way, with bipartisan support saying this is so important, this is so important, and there is such agreement, that we will move it promptly and cleanly? It seems to me that’s how you solve this problem and help save those jobs, because again, too often good intentions and good ideas get hijacked for the opposite, so…
HH: Oh, boy. Mr. Chairman, I understand that…
KB: And I agree with so much of what, I’m sorry we’re disagreeing on this one, because I really like the message. I like you, and I like the fact that you’re engaging in so many of these issues. I wish we did agree on this.
HH: But what makes me uncomfortable is I’m just done. I’m done with the NRCC. I’m done raising a dime for any of you folks, and I’m finally going to throw in with the Campaign For Primary Accountability and hope that they run people against you, because honestly, I did not work this hard for 13 years to send Republicans to do secret deals with lame duck Ways And Means chairmen with Max Baucus. I worked hard to send Republicans to Congress to pass tax repeal, send it over, and let us put pressure on the Senate, because it is everything I hate about the Beltway.
KB: Well, you can put pressure on the Senate, Hugh, right now.
HH: No, I’m putting pressure on the House. You guys are…
KB: The best I can say. Recognize the majority in your Senate.
KB: Let’s do this.
HH: You are, not you, not you, Mr. Chairman.
KB: No, I understand.
HH: The Chairman is blocking a repeal that will save jobs, and I am speaking for workers and companies that have been in this studio and said they need this repeal now. And I am just telling you, this is a disaster for Republicans, and I hope you will go and find the Chairman, and get him to rethink this. This is a disaster for the GOP. But I appreciate you coming on, and I hope everyone listening on KNTH-1070 weighs in with both of us.
End of interview.