RSC Chairman Optimistic Tax Bill Will Include Individual Mandate Repeal

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker is bullish language repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate will be included in the final version of the House GOP’s tax reform legislation, slated to be voted on Thursday.

The North Carolina Republican said he’s feeling optimistic the measure will pass the lower chamber, with or without the provision, but remains hopeful the repeal will make its way into the bill.

I’m feeling really good about it, and the icing on the cake is I love the fact that the individual mandate is trending in a very positive direction,” he told The Daily Caller Monday. “So, I think with or without it I think we get the votes to get it done.”

Proponents of the proposal argue the repeal could be a viable way to offset their plans to dramatically cut rates. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady told reporters Monday they haven’t taken the idea off the table.

“Well the president has already indicated to me a number of times he’s really interested in including the individual mandate repeal and it remains under consideration,” Brady said.

Walker said he believes there is a 60 to 65 percent chance the mandate repeal makes it into the House bill and a 35 to 40 percent chance it makes it into the final legislation after being conferenced with the Senate.

While Walker remains optimistic, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows — who has also advocated for its inclusion — said he thinks its unlikely it will make it into either the House, Senate or conferenced legislation.

“There is no chance it’s going to be on the House bill,” Meadows told reporters after the HFC meeting Monday night. “I think there’s a number of things that would suggest that it should be in the House bill, but at the same time I don’t see it being in the House bill.”

While members of the Freedom Caucus feel it would be a “logical pay for,” the powerful conservative group opted not to take an official position on the issue.

“What I can tell you is every single member [of the House Freedom Caucus] supports its inclusion, but that’s probably easier for us than some others,” Meadows said.

Meadows said the majority of the group is currently a lean-yes, with the understanding a number of issues still need to be worked out before they vote on the final version, adding he thinks the bill will pass the lower chamber before the end of the week.

“It is a bit concerning that we’ve had six people working on having a Senate and House version that was lockstep with the White House over the last nine months — to be no closer than we are today is a bit concerning,” he said.

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