Vice President Mike Pence will make the Republican case for a federal tax code overhaul during a speech Friday in his home state of Indiana.
His choice of venue, the struggling former General Motors town of Anderson, is no coincidence. Rather, it’s the continuation of a campaign by President Donald Trump’s administration that is alternately attempting to woo and pressure Indiana Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly to get on board with Republican’s tax plans.
Donnelly is one of three vulnerable Senate Democrats up for re-election in 2018 who represent states Trump won. Last week, he joined Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia for a working dinner with Trump at the White House focused on the GOP tax overhaul.
Manchin, Heitkamp and Donnelly are the only Democratic senators who did not sign a letter addressed to Republican leaders and Trump that said the Democratic caucus would not support a tax overhaul that cuts taxes for the “top 1 percent” or adds to the government’s $20 trillion debt.
But Donnelly has been coy thus far about whether he will support the GOP effort, though the White House says he will join Pence for the speech at Anderson University.
“It is an honor to welcome the Vice President back home to Indiana,” Donnelly said in a statement Thursday. “As we discuss tax reform, I believe that any reform effort should include policies that will create new jobs, protect existing jobs, and benefit middle class and working families. That is what I’ve discussed with President Trump, and I’m pleased he has been supportive of my proposals to prevent the outsourcing of jobs.”
Still, Republicans will continue to press the case. Trump himself plans to visit the state next week, the Indiana Republican Party announced Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the group Americans for Prosperity is launching its own efforts to pressure Donnelly into supporting the GOP tax overhaul. The group, which is financed by billionaire conservative industrialists Charles and David Koch, says they are considering running TV ads, launching a door-knocking campaign or targeting Donnelly with direct mail.