Will Republicans Couple Obamacare Repeal With Tax Reform?

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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Republican lawmakers are facing a Sept. 30 deadline to use the Fiscal Year 2017 budget to repeal and replace Obamacare, and the chances of them passing the latest health care bill appear slim, leaving some wonder what their next move will be.

GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona joined Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky as the second Republican in the upper chamber to announce a “no” vote on Graham-Cassidy, the latest repeal bill to be introduced in the Senate.

The party is gearing up to use the 2018 budget as the reconciliation vehicle — allowing the Senate to pass the legislation with just a simple majority — which could also, in theory, be used to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch told Bloomberg News that there’s “a chance” the two issues could be linked if they don’t manage to pass legislation in coming days, but he said it wouldn’t be easy.

Republicans have struggled for months to reach consensus on health care legislation, having fumbled their attempts to pass bills on several occasions in the upper chamber. GOP lawmakers are expected to release an outline of what has been agreed upon between top administration officials and Congress, but work remains to iron out the details on key provisions.

The House has yet to pass the budget due to a lack of support from members of the House Freedom Caucus, who argue they don’t feel comfortable supporting the bill until they have more details on the tax reform blueprint.

If the proposal to overhaul the tax code is meet with a similar divide that was seen with the Better Care Reconciliation Act, tacking on health care is bound to further complicate the process.

Republican leadership has maintained that it wants to complete tax reform before the end of the year.

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