The Note: GOP hopes tax reform is moment of Zen

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Interested in The Note?
Add The Note as an interest to stay up to date on the latest The Note news, video, and analysis from ABC News.

The Note

Add Interest

Addressing the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association dinner Wednesday night, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he was letting the world know his special yoga mantra for surviving the tumult of Trump: “Tax cuts.”

It was a joke. But it’s only funny because it’s true.

The wild events of the past few days – punctuated by two Republican senators questioning President Trump’s fitness for office – have hammered home just how much Republicans are counting on one particular legislative item to restore unity and governing momentum, plus juice the economy.

Yet events have also highlighted the difficulties in getting tax reform to the starting point, much less past the finish line.

Political brushfires over state and local tax deductibility and 401(k) changes offer just a taste of what’s to come – and those are just among the details that aren’t finalized. Actual legislative text, expected next week, will give enemies and would-be allies something concrete to criticize.

The lack of presidential consistency isn’t helping. Neither are the feuds.

The Republican Party’s mantra right now, despite what the president would say, is not unity.

And the party in power isn’t exactly feeling Zen.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

The Senate’s budget squeezed through the House yesterday, passing narrowly but successfully clearing the way for Republicans to take up tax reform on strictly party lines in the coming weeks.

Here’s what to expect next:

Members of House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Rep Kevin Brady, R-Texas, say they will unveil their long-awaited tax reform legislation next week. This will finally give experts, other lawmakers and the public the chance to dig into the details — which as of now as still being ironed out.

Over in the Senate, Republican leaders say they want to pass a tax reform bill by Thanksgiving.

The big question now, is that do-able?

To meet that timeline, Senate Republicans would have just 14 legislative days to either publicly debate the House bill or finish, markup and vote on their own version. As has often been the case with this new Congress, the curveball in these last minute negotiations is the White House.

One big X factor: the president.

Asked if he worries about disapproving tweets muddying the process, Speaker Paul Ryan made a funny.

“He’s going to be in Asia, No. 1,” he joked with reporters.

The TIP with Conor Finnegan

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is on his last leg of his week-long trip, stopping in Switzerland to meet with the UN Special Representative for Syria.

While touring some parks around Lake Geneva, he came upon a statue of several people curled into each other in a ball.

He crouched down and shielded his eyes from the sun as he approached, before circling the work of art.

Then he sighed, turned to his staff and said, “Yeah, some days I feel like I need to do that, curl up in a ball,” to laughs.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY:

  • JFK files trickle in: After a day’s wait, the White House released just over 2,500 documents on the assassination of President John Kennedy more than 50 years ago. ABC has coverage here.
  • President Trump yesterday declared an opioid crisis in the United States. Today’s order of business is a meeting with Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
  • This Week on ‘This Week’: The Powerhouse Roundtable debates the week in politics, with ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd, host and managing editor of “News One Now” Roland Martin, Democratic strategist and former Clinton campaign spokesperson Karen Finney, America First Strategies senior adviser and former Trump White House deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh, and “FOX & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade, author of the new book, “Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans: The Battle That Shaped America’s Destiny.”
  • Pence travels west: Vice President Mike Pence is on his second and last day of a trip to U.S. air force bases — today he visits Minot Air Force base in North Dakota.
  • D.C. hometown hero and famous chef Jose Andres is back from his disaster relief efforts in Puerto Rico and speaking out today on what Americans can do moving forward.
  • ‘Show me the money’: Critics are questioning the funding of President Trump’s opioid crisis plan.
  • Defense Secretary James Mattis visited the Korean Demilitarized Zone today amidst nuclear tension with North Korea.
  • QUOTE OF THE DAY

    “So what did the Congress of the United States do?…Continue to cut spending on defense, putting the lives of the men and women who are serving in greater danger,” – Sen. John McCain on how he feels congressional budget cuts factored into the deadly ambush in Niger.

    NEED TO READ

  • Trump declares opioid crisis a national public health emergency. But declaring a public health emergency is different from declaring a national emergency — which the president previously campaigned for. (Katherine Faulders and Alexander Mallin) http://abcn.ws/2zResRX
  • House narrowly passes budget with opposition from some blue state Republicans. Next up, tax overhaul. (Benjamin Siegel) http://abcn.ws/2y6J9FN
  • Florida lawmaker faces threats after criticizing Trump. Rep. Frederica Wilson is staying home — missing House votes — for safety reasons. (AP) http://abcn.ws/2yUFSbG
  • Georgia election server wiped after suit filed. A computer server crucial to a lawsuit against Georgia election officials was quietly wiped clean by its custodians just after the suit was filed. (AP) http://abcn.ws/2y7fNqw
  • Nearly half of refugees still blocked under Trump’s new ban. Those 11 banned countries are Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, according to Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. — a group that together made up 43.48 percent of all refugees admitted to the U.S. in fiscal year 2017. (Conor Finnegan and Geneva Sands) http://abcn.ws/2ll7S2V
  • Trump administration moves forward on Russia sanctions following four-week delay. (Benjamin Siegel and Conor Finnegan) http://abcn.ws/2zGOpfB
  • Newsday reports that the witness in Norman Seabrook trial implicated New York mayor Bill de Blasio and a half-dozen former NYPD brass. https://nwsdy.li/2zR0i3v
  • They gave to Jeff Flake’s campaign. Now Fortune magazine asks his donors what they’ll do next. http://for.tn/2lkWjc8
  • “Can a career tactician [Ed Gillespie] navigate Trump and a GOP civil war and win Virginia?” The Washington Post asks: http://wapo.st/2zbEUsL
  • Source.