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 HatchBottom line Bottom line Bottom line 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 PaulSecond senator tests positive for coronavirus antibodies Senate Democrats pump brakes on new stimulus checks Tim Kaine tests positive for COVID-19 antibodies 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 CorkerRomney is only GOP senator not on new White House coronavirus task force McConnell, Romney vie for influence over Trump's trial RNC says ex-Trump ambassador nominee's efforts 'to link future contributions to an official action' were 'inappropriate' 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 ToomeyGOP senators push for quick, partial reopening of economy NSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show Overnight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general MORE (R-Pa.) agreed. “That would be a very heavy lift,” he said.

—Naomi Jagoda contributed.