Top conservatives in the House are pushing for language on repealing the Obamacare individual mandate to be included in the final version of the GOP’s tax reform legislation, arguing it could be a viable option to offset tax cuts.
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said his group doesn’t plan to take an official position on the matter, but largely supports its inclusion.
“We had a long discussion about that tonight, and certainly there’s overwhelming support to include the individual mandate in that, but we’re trying to work with some far more moderate members and address some of their concerns in the tax bill,” he told reporters following the Freedom Caucus meeting Monday night.
While high-ranking GOP lawmakers said Monday the inclusion of a provision on repealing the Obamacare individual mandate appeared unlikely, House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady said Tuesday it hasn’t been ruled out.
“I’ve asked for an updated score so I know exactly what that provision would raise,” the Texas Republican told radio host Hugh Hewitt. “We’re listening to our members here in the House about how they’d react to that. And so I’ve been asked to consider it.”
Virginia Rep. Dave Brat, a member of the Freedom Caucus, argued they need the money if they want to lower tax rates without dramatically increasing the deficit. Brat noted the inclusion of the language could be added in the upper chamber.
“I don’t know that we haven’t been given a rational reason for why not,” he told reporters following the House Republican Conference meeting. “If the Senate does it and it comes back to us, that changes everything big time.”
Meadows said the addition would provide a “substantial” amount of funds to offset cuts. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office previously projected repealing the individual mandate would lead to a $416 billion deficit reduction.
“I think there is a growing consensus not just among Freedom Caucus members but members at large that we ought to include that, especially in light of the need to have a real pay for on what many of us believe should be retroactive,” he said.
The Ways and Means Committee is marking up its legislation this week. Leadership is aiming to send the bill to the Senate — which is expected to release its own legislation — before its Thanksgiving recess.