Senate Dems willing to discuss medical device tax repeal

During an appearance on CNN yesterday, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) hinted at that Senate Democrats may be willing to negotiate with Republicans on repeal ObamaCare’s medical device tax, though they expect Republicans to trade repeal of the tax for revenues elsewhere.

Durbin insisted that proposals to delay or defund ObamaCare in the Continuing Resolution (CR), a stop-gap spending measure to fund the government, were dead on arrival in the Senate. But he said that repeal of the medical device tax was on the table.

“We can work out something, I believe, on the medical device tax. That was one of the proposals from the Republicans,” said Durbin, who serves as the Senate Majority Whip, “as long as we replace the revenue so that we don’t put a hole in our deficit and respond to this in a responsible fashion.”

“That’s one thing the Republicans want to talk about it. Let’s sit down, and put that on the table,” he added.

This tax, which imposes a 2.3% excise tax on medical devices, could has been troublesome for medical companies and could lead to the loss of some 43,000 jobs. The medical device tax, which went into effect at the beginning of the year, is expected to bring in $20 billion in revenues over the next decade.

Both chambers have previously passed repeal of the medical tax. The House repealed it last June by a vote of 270 to 146. The Senate didn’t immediately act on the measure, allowing it to die. The chamber did overwhelmingly and in bipartisan fashion pass an amendment to repeal the tax earlier this year in their version of the budget. That vote, however, was largely symbolic.

House Republicans amended the CR to include a one-year delay of ObamaCare and repeal of the medical device tax. Those amendments were stripped out by the Senate, where Democrats demanded a “clean” measure.

Durbin’s hint at a willingness to negotiate over the provision isn’t really much of anything given that they want to make up for the lost revenue elsewhere, essentially trade a tax hike for a tax hike. Republicans aren’t likely to go for that.

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