Sen. Lisa Murkowski backs Obamacare individual mandate repeal

Sen. Lisa Murkowski did not say if she supports the Senate GOP tax plan

ByArlette Saenz
November 22, 2017, 12:42 PM

— -- Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she supports repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate — a key provision in the Senate Republican tax bill — but she refrained from offering a full endorsement of the tax package.

"I believe that the federal government should not force anyone to buy something they do not wish to buy in order to avoid being taxed," Murkowski wrote in an op-ed for The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. "That is the fundamental reason why I opposed the Affordable Care Act from its inception and also why I co-sponsored a bill to repeal the individual mandate tax penalty starting as early as 2013. And that is why I support the repeal of that tax."

Murkowski, who was one of three GOP senators to vote against a partial repeal of Obamacare this summer, notably did not say whether she would vote for the Republican tax plan that the Senate will consider after its Thanksgiving break.

She is one of several Republican holdouts on the tax plan. If all Senate Democrats and independents oppose the measure, Republicans can afford to lose no more than two GOP votes.

On Sunday, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos she wants to see revisions to the plan.

"I want to see changes in that bill, and I think there will be changes," Collins, who opposes the individual mandate repeal, said on ABC News' "This Week."

Last week Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., announced his opposition to the Senate tax plan, saying it favors corporations over pass-through businesses such as small businesses. Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; and John McCain, R-Ariz., have also voiced concerns about the measure.

The House passed a $1.5 trillion tax plan that would decrease the number of tax brackets and cut the corporate tax rate to 20 percent, from 35 percent. The Senate Finance Committee advanced a bill similar to the House plan out of committee last week, but the Senate measure includes a repeal of the individual mandate.

If the Senate passes a tax package, the bill will be reconciled with the measure passed by the House. President Trump has said he wants to sign a tax bill by Christmas.

"We're going to give the American people a huge tax cut for Christmas. Hopefully that will be a great, big, beautiful Christmas present," he said Monday.

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