Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) had a surprise guest in tow Thursday as he rode the Senate subway from his office to the Capitol: Ivanka Trump.
Reporters and staffers did head-snapping double takes as the senior White House adviser and first daughter headed up the basement escalator to the crowded elevators with Alexander during a busy afternoon Senate vote. Was she delivering further news of President Trump’s frustrations over the Senate’s failure to pass a health care bill? Just visiting?
Neither. She was there to advocate the child-care tax credit and paid family leave, according to a White House official.
Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, explained later that he and Trump have mutual friends who suggested that they get together.
“I was delighted to invite her to lunch,” Alexander said following the meeting. “I found her delightful, smart and easy to talk with.”
Alexander would not comment on the topics they discussed, but he said the conversation was engaging and that he enjoyed getting to know the president’s elder daughter.
The pair skipped the long lines for Taco Tuesday in the Senate Carryout in favor of lunch in the stately Senate dining room. No word on whether Trump tried the famed Senate Bean Soup.
The Thursday lunch marked Trump’s second visit to Capitol Hill in as many days to pitch Republicans on the benefits of family-friendly tax policies. The push follows the Wednesday release of a nine-page GOP tax outline and the launch of an effort for Congress to craft a new tax code by the end of this year.
The Republican tax framework included plans for expanding the existing $1,000 Child Tax Credit to allow more higher-earning families to claim the benefit, but leaders have not yet specified what the new income caps would be. Republicans have also proposed a $500 write-off for non-child dependents.
To further simplify tax filing and provide tax relief for middle-income families, the framework would repeal the personal exemptions for dependents and significantly increase the Child Tax Credit. The first $1,000 of the credit would be refundable as under current law. In addition, the framework would increase the income levels at which the Child Tax Credit begins to phase out. The modified income limits would make the credit available to more middle-income families and eliminate the marriage penalty in the existing credit. The framework also would provide a nonrefundable credit of $500 for non-child dependents to help defray the cost of caring for other dependents.
Tax writers have signaled that they are open to considering adding more tax benefits and breaks for families, but the framework doesn’t give any details of what that might include. Trump has called for lawmakers to expand deductions for the cost of child care as a part of a broader push to give working families more flexibility.
Trump’s lobbying effort also included a Wednesday trip to discuss the Child Tax Credit with members of the House Ways and Means Committee.