Rep. Jeb Hensarling said Tuesday he still believes the GOP's health-care bill can pave the way for tax reform, but he acknowledged it also could work the other way.
"We're going to get tax reform done. The only question is is it going to be good, better or best," said the Republican chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.
"It goes to the quality of how robust this tax package will be. It can be done without passing the health-care package," Hensarling said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."
Republicans have been trying to get their Obamacare repeal and replacement bill done before tackling an overhaul of the nation's tax code because the health-care measure contains tax cuts that would give tax writers a head start.
While the measure passed the House nearly a month ago, it's running into resistance in the Senate. But Hensarling remains positive. "I've got to be an optimist. I have this job. I've got a reason to crawl into a fetal position and weep every day," he joked.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, a fellow Texan, is leading the House effort on reducing corporate and individual taxes and simplifying the code under the banner "A Better Way Forward on Tax Reform."
The House plans also contains a controversial border adjustment provision to tax imports in hopes of raising $1 trillion in revenue to help pay for lowering the corporate rate to 20 percent.
Hensarling said he talked to Brady over the weekend and remains optimistic. "[But] at a bare minimum," he continued, "I think you're going to see a reduction in corporate tax rates [and] a significant stab at simplification."
The Trump administration has outlined its own broad plan that would cut tax rates for businesses and streamline the tax system for individuals.
The White House hopes to get health care passed before the August recess, clearing the way for tax reform before the end of the year.
— Reuters contributed to this report.