'Big Six' member says tax reform blueprint to follow Senate hearings

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Republican senator involved in U.S. tax reform negotiations said on Monday that he expects to share the Trump tax reform plan with other lawmakers after holding hearings on overhauling the tax code.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) speaks to reporters after the Senate approved $15.25 billion in aid for areas affected by Hurricane Harvey along with measures that would fund the federal government and raise its borrowing limit on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

“We’re going to have hearings first, and then we’ll go from there. We’ll share it at that time,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, a member of the “Big Six” tax reform policymakers, told reporters.

“I want everybody to participate and to know what we’re doing. I don’t want anybody to feel like they haven’t been consulted,” he added.

Hatch’s committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on individual tax reform on Thursday, and the lawmaker said more hearings could follow.

The timeline suggests that members of Congress may not get a look at the emerging tax reform plan until the last week of September at the earliest. The House of Representatives is scheduled to be in recess next week.

As recently as Friday, House Republicans had said they expected to learn as early as this week about a tax reform framework from the “Big Six” senior tax policymakers from Congress and the Trump administration.

The six are Hatch, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House economic adviser Gary Cohn. They have been negotiating for months to hammer out a deal on tax reform.

President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress campaigned last year on a promise to slash individual and business taxes as part of a tax reform package that would also simplify the sprawling U.S. tax code.

Trump said over the weekend that he would call on Congress to speed up the process.

But the Big Six have yet to finalize an agreement, and lobbyists say the group is still undecided on basic elements of a tax reform plan, including whether tax legislation should add to the federal deficit or be revenue-neutral.

The lack of progress has eroded hopes of completing tax reform before the end of 2017 and frustrated efforts to pass a budget resolution containing a vital procedural tool needed to move tax legislation forward on a simple majority in the Senate, which Republicans control by only 52 to 48 seats.

Mnuchin and Cohn are expected discuss the prospects for a budget resolution at a Tuesday meeting with members of the Senate Budget Committee.

Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Jonathan Oatis