Top House conservatives won't back draft ObamaCare replacement

The chairman of the influential Republican Study Committee said Monday he would vote against a draft ObamaCare replacement bill that leaked last week. 
 
Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), head of the 172-member committee, said Monday his opposition stems from the draft bill's use of refundable tax credits. 
 
"There are serious problems with what appears to be our current path to repeal and replace Obamacare. The draft legislation, which was leaked last week, risks continuing major Obamacare entitlement expansions and delays any reforms," Walker said in a statement Monday. 
 
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"It kicks the can down the road in the hope that a future Congress will have the political will and fiscal discipline to reduce spending that this Congress apparently lacks. Worse still," Walker continued, "the bill contains what increasingly appears to be a new health insurance entitlement with a Republican stamp on it."
 
He later told reporters the committee would have a hard time getting behind the draft as written. 
 
"Provide us with more information. We're willing to engage, but where it sits right now, off this leaked plan ... as it stands right now, our members would have a tough time getting there," he said. 
 
Walker said he could not "in good conscience" recommend Study Committee members vote for the draft. 
 
Walker became the second top Republican to come out against the draft bill Monday. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chair of the conservative Freedom Caucus, also said he would vote against the measure as drafted. 
 
He first voiced his opposition to the tax credits, which he called an "entitlement program."
 
"I'm opposed to refundable tax credits in the way the current draft, as I understand it, lays it out because it actually increases — provides for a new entitlement program," he told reporters Monday. 
 
"That plan that was reported on ... has a number of issues that would make it impossible for me to vote for."
 
He voiced his opposition to the tax credits, which he called an "entitlement program," in an interview with CNN.
 
"What is conservative about a new entitlement program and a new tax increase? And should that be the first thing that the president signs of significance that we sent to the new president?" Meadows said.
 
"A new Republican president signs a new entitlement and a new tax increase as his first major piece of legislation? I don't know how you support that. Do you?"
 
It's unclear how much has changed in two weeks, but the draft includes a refundable tax credit, based on age and not income, to help people buy health insurance. 
 
Two top Republicans bucking the draft shows the struggle the party is facing to coalesce around an ObamaCare repeal and replacement plan.
 
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) acknowledged that the disagreements could slow Republicans down and said President Trump should weigh in. 
 
"I think there's a lot of these issues along the way where there's legitimate disagreements, and you really have to have the White House weigh in one way or the other," he said. 
 
"If Republicans can't come to a consensus, then they'll have to go home and explain why they couldn't get done what they said they wanted to do for the last six years."
 
Meadows indicated that other members of the caucus may vote against the repeal bill if it contains the refundable tax credit.

Freedom Caucus members have endorsed a replacement bill by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) that would come with a tax deduction of up to $5,000 instead of a refundable tax credit. 

The caucus has asked leadership to take up a 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill that was vetoed by President Obama. They have said they won't vote for any bill that is "weaker" than the 2015 bill. 

Updated 8:41 p.m.