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House Republicans accelerate efforts on tax reform bill

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are accelerating efforts to craft a sweeping tax reform bill for 2017 and looking at ways to smooth the transition to a new tax system for some businesses, the House Republican tax chief said on Wednesday.

Republicans on the House tax committee met in a special recess session to work on a reform bill based on an election campaign blueprint that would cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and end taxation of foreign profits for U.S. multinational corporations.

Representative Kevin Brady, Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means panel that is expected to unveil legislation early next year, said his committee is consulting with President-elect Donald Trump's transition team and Republicans in the Senate.

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"We're meeting here to take the broad outlines of our blueprint, begin filling in the specific provisions (and) identifying a path forward," Brady told reporters after Wednesday's session.

The panel, which oversees tax policy in the House, will hold a second session on Thursday to discuss provisions of the U.S. healthcare law popularly known as Obamacare, which Republicans have promised to repeal. The meetings were initially scheduled for January but were moved forward to be ready for Trump's arrival in the White House. Trump takes office on Jan. 20.

Brady and House Speaker Paul Ryan see tax reform as a way to promote economic growth and create jobs.

One of the most dramatic changes under consideration is a border adjustability provision that would exempt U.S. exports from corporate income tax but would tax imports. Advocates say the reform parallels Trump's call for import tariffs and could help the president-elect foster manufacturing jobs for blue-collar Americans, who are among his most ardent supporters.

Border adjustability has strong support among exporters. But it has also raised concerns within industries that rely heavily on imports, including retailing and oil refining.

Brady said on Wednesday that his committee is sensitive to the way tax reform could affect different businesses.

"We're looking at a number of transition rules that in effect accelerate the growth aspects of all of our tax reform proposals but also acknowledge (that) these are major changes," the Texas Republican said.

"We're proposing bold changes. We know that. All of them affect different businesses differently. So we're listening very closely to how we can make sure we smooth that out."

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)