On November 9, the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) released its Description of the Chairman’s Mark of the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" (see previous Tax News and Developments Client Alert, Ways and Means Committee Releases "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" distributed on 3 November 2017). This document, typically referred to as a "conceptual mark," is Senate Finance Committee (SFC) Chairman Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) tax reform proposal. At some point, we expect Chairman Hatch to release a revised draft, referred to as the "modified mark." The SFC will begin debating and marking up the document on Monday, 13 November. The mark up is expected to last most, if not all, of the week due to the number of amendments. Members of the Finance committee filed more than 350 amendments on Sunday afternoon (this does not preclude members and senators off committee from filing amendments if and when the bill is considered by the full Senate). Legislative text will not be released until after the mark up concludes, and it will reflect the outcome of the SFC debate.
The House Ways & Means Committee (W&M) passed H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, out of committee on party lines on Thursday, 9 November. Unless the House Rules Committee makes further changes, the bill that passed out of W&M will be voted on by the full House. Although a vote is anticipated the week of 13 November, it had not been scheduled at the time this alert was prepared.
If, as expected, the House and the Senate ultimately pass different versions of the tax bill, the House and the Senate can take two paths. First, the House can merely accept the Senate bill and vote to support it. Alternatively, the bill can go to conference to reconcile those differences. If the bill goes to conference, then both houses will vote on the conferenced bill, which cannot be amended on the floor of either house.