WASHINGTON – The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has only been in place for a few months now, but Republicans are already looking ahead to phase two of tax reform.
With just months left until the 2018 midterms, Republicans hope to score more points with voters on lowering taxes. The strategy could force Democrats into some tough votes, like making the popular individual tax cuts permanent.
"We hope to get support from our Democrat friends. In fact, one of the pushbacks we heard from the Democrats was if these tax cuts are so good, why didn't we make them permanent? We've got no problem with that," U.S. Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) told CBN News.
Individual tax cuts under the current law are set to expire in 10 years. Budget rules forced Republicans to make them temporary in order to pass the bill with no Democrat support.
Now, the GOP sees an opportunity to make them permanent ahead of the midterm elections: If the measure doesn't receive the necessary votes from Democrats, it puts them on the record against the cuts.
"I don't know if you would call it support, but at least acknowledgment from some of our Democratic colleagues that tax reform is working in many parts of our country," said Walker.
GOP lawmakers have signaled they might release parts of phase two of the tax plan on April 15.
Walker, a former pastor, tells CBN News he thinks this second phase will consist of smaller adjustment bills.
"One of the those specifically is an act that our office is leading, called the Universal Charitable Giving Act, that allows families and people that aren't itemizing to deduct. Whether it's their local church, local shelters, local communities – we hope that's included in the next review," he said.
Walker says although most people give out of the goodness of their heart, this bill makes sure the new tax plan won't negatively affect donations to churches and non-profits.
"We want to make sure that those gifts are protected," the North Carolina lawmaker explained.
But Walker says he does not expect another attempt at repealing the Johnson Amendment through tax reform.
"We believe and hear that it is picking up some energy. At some point, we would like to attach it to something this year," he explained. "It did not make tax reform – you are correct – but it is still something at the forefront of many of us who have a conservative worldview and also believers."
Lawmakers believe they could begin voting on parts of phase two as early as this month.