Washington: President Donald Trump plans to sign the tax bill on 3 January to ensure automatic spending cuts to Medicare and other programs don’t take effect, according to a House Republican aide familiar with the plans.

The White House informed House GOP members of the timetable, following the likely decision by House Republicans to leave the so-called PAYGO provision out of a year-end spending deal to avoid a government shut down before Friday, the person said who asked not to be named because the plan hasn’t been publicly announced.

Trump and GOP leaders have repeatedly said the president would sign the legislation before Christmas. White House National Economic Council director Gary Cohn signalled on Wednesday morning that the signing date could be pushed back because of the potential for triggering the cuts.

Under the PAYGO law, automatic cuts to Medicare and other spending categories would be triggered by the tax bill in January because the bill is scored as increasing the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years. Waiting until January means that those cuts would be delayed until 2019, according to budget expert Ed Lorenzen of the committee for a responsible federal budget.

White House officials insisted that no firm timetable had been set. Trump could sign the tax legislation earlier if Congress passed a waiver to the PAYGO rules, but that is unlikely to happen before lawmakers leave Washington for a holiday recess.

“I think we’re just working out some of the logistics on that," Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday on Fox News. “He’ll sign it as quickly as he can."

Majority leader Mitch McConnell and speaker Paul Ryan have vowed that the cuts would not be triggered. They would need Democrats to waive them this year, however, since doing so would require 60 votes in the Senate. Nearly the entire House Democratic caucus last week threatened to block a PAYGO waiver unless Republicans made concessions like restoring the Obamacare individual mandate. Bloomberg

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