GOP senators reject combining health, tax reform in 2018
© Greg Nash

With the latest effort to overhaul ObamaCare looking dead just days before the Sept. 30 deadline, Senate Republicans are putting the kibosh on suggestions that the effort be combined with tax reform in 2018.

“Heavens no. We’re not going to do that,” said Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchRead Senate GOP's tax bill Senate panel to start tax bill markup on Monday Senate set for clash with House on tax bill MORE (R-Utah), chairman of the Senate Tax Committee. “It would just screw up the whole thing.”

Republicans were relying on a budget process called reconciliation to avert a Democratic filibuster on health care. The health-care specific instructions passed in the 2017 budget expire on Saturday, and Republicans plan on using the 2018 instructions to pass tax reform.

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Some, such as Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP senator asks to be taken off Moore fundraising appeals Red state lawmakers find blue state piggy bank Prosecutors tell Paul to expect federal charges against attacker: report MORE (R-Ky.), have suggested broadening the 2018 reconciliation instructions to pave the way for both health care and taxes, a process that could imperil both causes, as they would have to be passed together.

“There’s no reason why you couldn’t do more than one thing in a budget resolution, [why] you couldn’t [do] taxes and health care at the same time,” Paul said at a Monday press conference.

But the suggestion didn’t go over well with his colleagues, including Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.).

“Look, we need to go do tax reform. We failed twice on health care, I’m disappointed, but we can come back to health care,” said Kennedy, a member of the Budget Committee.

When presented with the prospect of combining the two issues, committee member Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTax Foundation: Senate reform bill would cost 6B GOP senators raise concerns over tax plan Dem House candidate apologizes for saying it 'shouldn't take brain cancer' for McCain to show courage MORE (R-Tenn.) offered a skeptical “Yeesh,” though he wouldn’t discount the possibility completely.

“It’s been pretty difficult to do each individually, but look, I’m open to doing it in ways that might make us successful,” he said.

Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyNewly declassified memos detail extent of improper Obama-era NSA spying Overnight Tech: FCC won't fine Colbert over Trump joke | Trump budget slashes science funding | Net neutrality comment period opens Appeals court decision keeps lawsuit against NSA surveillance alive MORE (R-Pa.) agreed. “That would be a very heavy lift,” he said.

—Naomi Jagoda contributed.