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Sen. Lindsey Graham isn't ready to give up on health care. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

Graham-Cassidy is almost certainly dead, but some Republicans want to press on with health care — along with tax reform — through the 2018 budget, and momentum for the idea seems to be building. That way, Sept. 30 wouldn’t be their final deadline after all. "There's a pretty vocal do both tax reform and healthcare with FY18 reconciliation camp," one senior GOP Senate aide told me.

Why this matters: Some Senate Republicans don't want to give up on health care, but others worry combining the two difficult topics will sink the tax reform effort. "We don't have the political capital," said the aide, who is in the latter camp. But 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.

Who’s on board: Sens. Ron Johnson, Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul — so far.

Be smart: Writing budget resolutions and reconciliation instructions is complicated, but here's all you need to know: It would be possible to do both tax reform and health care through the same budget vehicle. So the argument isn't about whether this is possible — it's about whether the GOP should do it.

Johnson and Graham might be able to force the party's hand. "If we're not able to pass this this week, both Lindsey Graham and I have said — we're both on the Budget Committee — we'll insist on a budget resolution that'll give us the tools of reconciliation for health care and for tax reform," Johnson told reporters Monday.

  • Paul told reporters on Monday that "there's no reason you couldn't do health care and taxes at the same time."
  • Like health care, passing a budget — and then tax reform later — will only require 50 votes. However, that means Republicans can only lose two votes on a partisan bill to still pass it, with Vice President Mike Pence's tie-breaking vote.
  • "This will be the next problem [because] they won't have 51 votes for the budget," a GOP lobbyist said, adding that as far as tax reform goes, "I think this whole thing is going to get derailed by health care."

Yes, but: There are a lot of Republicans who are sick of dealing with health care. And very importantly, House GOP tax leaders have been clear that they do not want to mix health care with tax reform.

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Go deeper

Fintech's record year

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Massive venture rounds into fintech companies have ballooned this year, pushing up total dollars invested — in just the first three quarters of 2021 — to nearly double the amount in all of 2020, per new PitchBook data.

Why it matters: The maturing of fintech startups means a growing number of companies are able to raise huge later-stage funding rounds as investors look to lock-in their bets.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Democrats' clean power outlook is very muddy

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Here are two big questions as a key Democratic proposal to slash emissions from power generation flounders: how much its demise would sap climate protections, and what might replace it.

Catch up fast: New financial carrots and sticks for utilities to deploy zero-carbon power — the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) — look unlikely to stay in Democrats' big social spending and climate bill.

1 hour ago - Health

CDC: Unvaccinated are over 11 times more likely to die from COVID

Expand chart
Reproduced from CDC; Note: Data represents 30% of Americans across 16 jurisdictions: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York City, Seattle/King County, Wash., Utah and Wisconsin; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The CDC recently published data evaluating Americans' rate of coronavirus cases and deaths by vaccine status, providing more data on which vaccines are working best and how much protection they offer relative to being unvaccinated.

What they found: As of August, unvaccinated people had a more than six times higher risk of testing positive for the coronavirus, and were more than 11 times more likely to die from the virus.