Individual Mandate Repeal Likely Off Table for House Tax Bill

Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, left, and Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., ranking member, concluded their Ways and Means Committee markup of the Republicans' tax reform plan on November 9, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Repealing the individual mandate to buy health insurance, eyed by tax writers as a way to offset the costs of their tax overhaul legislation, does not appear to still be a candidate for inclusion in the House’s evolving measure. 

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady on Thursday suggested that repeal of the individual mandate will not make it into the tax overhaul the House plans to vote on next week.

A second substitute amendment the Texas Republican offered to the bill Thursday, which was adopted as the Ways and Means Committee concluded a four-day markup, did not include a provision to repeal the mandate.

In a brief interview with Roll Call after the committee markup, Brady said he does not expect to add it before the House votes on the bill next week.

“We were within the budget number, and it’s extremely pro-growth,” he said of the newly amended tax bill. “And so I would expect this measure to go to the House floor.”

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President Donald Trump and House and Senate conservatives want to add the mandate repeal to the tax bill, arguing that the revenue the provision raises could be used to pay for other priorities.

The Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday released an updated estimate of the provision, predicting it would raise $388 billion over 10 years. While the mandate itself was designed as a revenue raiser, its repeal would actually raise more money because less people buying insurance would result in individuals having more taxable income and the government doling out fewer premium subsidies.

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