Trump cheers House Republicans at ‘pep rally’ on taxes

President Donald Trump headed to the Capitol to give a rah-rah speech to House Republicans who are on the verge of scoring their first major legislative win of his presidency.

The speech by the president at a closed-door was a ‘pep rally,’ Kentucky Rep. Hal Rogers told

As in a televised speech from the White House where he recounted his recent 12-day journey, the president regaled lawmakers with stories of his meetings with world leaders.

‘He talked a lot about his trip. Some of the successes he had in terms of trade deals suggested others might materialize going forward,’ said Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma.

Trump also talked about his efforts to get China to free three UCLA basketball players something he highlighted yesterday when he tweeted that he wondered if the players would thank him.

One thing the president didn’t do was engage in bartering with a large group of lawmakers who might leak word of any infighting.

He didn’t even address a primary sticking point with a Senate tax cut – its inclusion of a provision to repeal the Obamacare individual mandate.

‘He was very careful I think to avoid any kind of specifics in that regard,’ said Cole.

‘There was no specifics at all, actually, in the meeting,’ said New York GOP Rep. Dan Donavan, who opposes the bill in its current form. ‘It was just a general discussion, actually he didn’t even take questions, he spoke, he talked about his trip to Asia among other things and really just asked everybody to go out there and get tax reform passed,’ he told

Trump came to the Capitol to try to give a final boost to a House $1.5 trillion tax cut, after some ominous signs forRepublicans in the Senate.

House leaders are expressing optimism that they have assembled the needed 218 votes for their tax cut bill, lifting any burden for Trump to try to close the deal when he meets with the House GOP conference in advance of the vote.

But the legislation is facing some blowback from members from high-tax states who continue to balk at the elimination of most of the deduction for state and local taxes.

‘We could lose all the seats in the northeast, New York Rep. Pete King (R-NY) vented, Fox News reported. ‘This is an unforced error. We’re doing this to ourselves.’

But the the more explosive action Wednesday occurred in the Senate Wednesday, when conservative Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin blasted the version released by the Senate Finance Committee.

‘If they can pass it without me, let them,’ Johnson told the Wall Street Journal. ‘I’m not going to vote for this tax package.’

Johnson doesn’t share the Democratic complaint – that the bill hits millions of families with a tax hike while permanently slashing corporate rates. He complains that while corporations get a major cut (from 35 to 20 per cent), other types of businesses that file taxes as individuals don’t.

‘That is still buffaloing people, pass-throughs that think they’re getting a 25% rate,’ said Johnson. ‘It’s still lost on a lot of people.’