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.
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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.
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