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 HatchOrrin Hatch Foundation seeking million in taxpayer money to fund new center in his honor Mitch McConnell has shown the nation his version of power grab Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Utah Senate votes to scale back Medicaid expansion | Virginia abortion bill reignites debate | Grassley invites drug execs to testify | Conservative groups push back on e-cig crackdown 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 PaulOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Congress must step up to protect Medicare home health care Business, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration 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 CorkerSasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger RNC votes to give Trump 'undivided support' ahead of 2020 Sen. Risch has unique chance to guide Trump on foreign policy 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 ToomeyOvernight 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 WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race MORE (R-Pa.) agreed. “That would be a very heavy lift,” he said.

—Naomi Jagoda contributed.