In a radio interview Wednesday, incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus laid out the top priorities for Donald Trump when he takes office as president next month: First will be the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, followed by two distinct tax reform packages.
Speaking with host Hugh Hewitt, Priebus said, “I think we’re probably going to lead with Obamacare repeal and then replace, then we will have tax, you know, we’ll have a small tax reform package, and then a bigger tax reform package at the end of April. So I think what you’re looking at is between two tax reform packages and reconciliation in the first nine months, you’re looking at what essentially comes down to like three basically different budget packages.”
He said the administration will also have other matters that need attention. “Not to mention, you’ve got cabinet secretary appointments, a Supreme Court appointment, and you know the Senate calendar, how frustrating that can be. So it’s going to be a busy year starting with the first nine months being very much consumed through Obamacare and tax reform.”
On the question of tax reform, Priebus downplayed a statement that Trump’s treasury Secretary nominee, Steve Mnuchin, made last week promising that the administration would press for a cap on the popular mortgage interest deduction.
“I don’t think anything’s a done deal, yet, Hugh,” Priebus said. “I think these are things that we’re going to talk about with not just President-Elect Trump, but with leadership in the House and the Senate. These are things that we have to make sure that we have the votes to get through.”
Priebus said that Trump has yet to start interviewing candidates to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2015, and which the Republican-controlled Senate refused to allow President Obama to fill. However, he said Trump would move quickly on both that issue and on nominating judges to fill empty positions on federal appellate courts, as well as other priorities.
“You don’t want to sit around and let sort of the disputes of Washington overtake your ability to move quickly through the process,” he said. “And so that’s why, you know, look, the first and second year of a new presidency is where everything happens. And we understand that. We understand that the first year is our best opportunity to get as many of the things done that we need to get done in order to move the country forward.”