November 14, 2017 19:00 GMT by cnn.com

Rand Paul makes a play to include Obamacare individual mandate repeal in tax bill

Sen. Rand Paul announced Tuesday he plans to offer an amendment to the Senate tax bill to repeal Obamacare's individual mandate that requires individuals to have health insurance or face a fine.

President Donald Trump has endorsed repealing the individual mandate as part of the tax bill, but mixing in such a controversial health care provision could endanger the GOP's overall tax reform efforts.
In a series of tweets, Paul, R-Kentucky, said he intended "to amend the Senate tax bill to repeal the individual mandate and provide bigger tax cuts for middle income taxpayers. The mandate repeal is a promise we all made and we should keep. It also allows an additional $300 billion+ in tax cuts."
Paul is not on the finance committee, the committee with jurisdiction over the tax reform process, but his tweets come after Sen. John Cornyn, the majority whip, told reporters Tuesday that Republicans on that committee met Monday night and discussed the prospects for repealing the individual mandate. Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, has also been pushing for the change.
Cornyn told reporters that no final decisions had been made and that members were still discussing their options.
"It is under discussion," Cornyn said Tuesday. "I can't tell you now. We are going to be talking about it with the whole conference at our noon meeting."
While the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that repealing the individual mandate could give tax writers an additional $338 billion to reduce taxes over the next decade, Republican leaders have been hesitant to include it. There is fear that after the Senate failed to overhaul Obamacare, adding the provision could doom the Senate's tax efforts.
But, there is little arguing that the Senate needs more revenue to pass their bill under the Senate's arcane rules. Under what is known as the Byrd Rule, the GOP's tax bill cannot add to the deficit outside the 10-year window if Republicans want to pass their bill with a simple majority vote. Right now, it does. In his tweets, Paul argued that including the provision would give Republicans more flexibility once they have to sit down with the House to combine the two bills in conference.
Paul also suggested that his amendment could create enough revenue to shore up divisions between the House and Senate bills. Many House Republicans have already voiced concerns that they could not vote for a bill that repeals the state and local property tax deduction, which the Senate bill does.
"My amendment will fix a problem in the Senate bill where many taxpayers would see a tax increase because of the loss of state and local deductions," Paul tweeted. "I will introduce a similar deduction as the House plan, making the tax reform plan more fair for everyone."

CNN's Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

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