Signals from a Tax Bill Swing Vote: Murkowski Backs Mandate Repeal

Signals from a Tax Bill Swing Vote: Murkowski Backs Mandate Repeal


Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), one of the key swing votes on the Senate’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, wrote Tuesday that she supports the repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate. “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.

Murkowski was one of three GOP senators who voted to block Obamacare repeal efforts over the summer, so her latest expression of support for repealing the mandate, which is part of the Senate’s tax bill, could be an encouraging sign for Republicans. Or not. Murkowski’s op-ed does not include and explicit endorsement of the tax bill and a spokesperson told Politico that the piece shouldn’t be read as an indication that she’s a “yes” on the legislation. “Senator Murkowski said on Friday that she will be reviewing the work of the Finance Committee over the Thanksgiving holiday and plans to look at the entire package before coming to any conclusion on the legislation," the spokesperson said.

Murkowski’s piece did, however, repeat her call for enacting the bipartisan Obamacare stabilization measures being pushed by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA). The senator had said suggested last week that her vote for the tax bill and its repeal of the Obamacare mandate was contingent on passage of the Alexander-Murray stabilization bill, which could be included in a spending bill next month. Murkowski has also supported opening portions of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas drilling, and the tax bill would be combined with legislation that greenlights such drilling as a way to raise $1 billion toward deficit reduction.