Graham-Cassidy, the latest Senate Republican effort to repeal large parts of the Affordable Care Act and transform Medicaid, appeared to have died its final death on Monday evening, when Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joined Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in stating her intention to vote no on the bill if it comes up for a vote this week. The Senate GOP's ability to pass a health-care bill with just 50 Republican votes, through the budget reconciliation process, ends Saturday, and Republicans have committed to using next fiscal year's budget resolution to pass tax reform with only GOP votes. But in theory, Republicans could combine health care and tax reform in the same budget vehicle, and that idea is gaining steam.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), both sponsors of Graham-Cassidy, are pushing to combine tax reform and health care, and both Sen. Paul and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) are among those interested in the idea. Others, including GOP House tax leaders, are wary of threatening tax reform by mixing it up with an ObamaCare repeal effort that has thwarted Republicans all year. "I think we need to move onto tax reform," said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), adding about Graham-Cassidy: "I think this bill's dead."
But it didn't earn the nickname "Zombie TrumpCare" for nothing. Johnson and Graham are both on the Senate Budget Committee, and if both joined all committee Democrats in voting against a budget resolution without health care, it wouldn't pass, meaning tax reform would be at an impasse, too. Both senators threatened to do that on Sunday and Monday. "I think this whole thing is going to get derailed by health care," a GOP lobbyist told Axios. "There are a lot of Republicans who are sick of dealing with health care," says Caitlin Owens at Axios. But President Trump and GOP donors large and small are insistent, and "as we've seen over the last 10 days, it becomes politically difficult for the GOP to ignore a glimmer of hope when it comes to repealing the Affordable Care Act."