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Stewart Bullish On Tax Bill's Chances, Disputes Deficit Hazard

Congressman Chris Stewart says despite nearly a year of setbacks for the GOP's legislative efforts, he believes his party's sweeping rewrite of the tax code will make it across the finish line this week. 

"I am optimistic," he said in an interview Tuesday. "Right now you have a couple senators who are saying, I think most of those cases they're trying to maneuver the final bill to something they like a little better. At the end of the day, I think they're going to support it."

Stewart voted for the bill along with Utah's three other representatives. The bill sailed through the House along party lines.

The bill cuts taxes for corporations and reduces the number of income brackets. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office expects the cuts could add more than a $1 trillion to the deficit.

But Stewart disagrees with the CBO.

"I don't think it's going to be anything close to more than $1 trillion," he says. "I think I've seen other studies that put it at something like $200 billion, which is still a lot of money, but over a 10-year period that's sustainable." 

Stewart says the bill isn't perfect and he would like to see some changes before a final version is negotiated, but he says he'll continue to support it.

"If I could change a $200-billion increase in the deficit over 10 years for this tax reform, I'd do that in a hearbeat," he says. "This is so important for Middle America."

Sexual Harassment 


With the wave of sexual harassment allegations sweeping across various industries, Congress is the latest institution grappling with how to handle the fallout.


Stewart is among those backing efforts to change the way sexual harassment cases are handled against members of Congress. On Wednesday, he introduced legislation to address it.

Called the Victims' Voice and Transparency Act, Stewart says the legislation will allow victims of sexual misconduct to release the names of the accused and the settlement payment amount if they choose to. 

Reports of recent allegations against members of Congress revealed that victims are often made to sign non-disclosure agreements.

"The question is can we get that into the legislation? I hope so," he says. "There are some people who say you can't go back and grandfather and affect those contracts that have already been signed...but if the victims of this are willing to talk about it, we would like to give them a way to do that."


Stewart also addressed recent allegations against Sen. Al Franken and Rep. John Conyers, both Democrats.

"If they behaved that way, I don't think that they can serve in the public trust," he said.


Earlier, he called on Republican Roy Moore to drop out of the Alabama Senate race. Stewart said sexual harassment is never appropriate and must be challenged at every level.


This story has been updated with more details of Stewart's legislation.

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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