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Senate Trio Asks Speaker to Strike 1099 Provision

A trio of Democratic Senators up for re-election in 2012 are asking Speaker John Boehner to repeal an unpopular tax reporting provision of the health care reform law.

In a letter sent to the Ohio Republican on Thursday, one day after the House voted to repeal the law, Sens. Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.) urged the Speaker to move forward with separate legislation to eliminate the 1099 provision. 

“Now that you have moved past repeal of the Affordable Care Act, we encourage you to work on efforts to improve the law moving forward. In this spirit, we urge you to take up and pass H.R. 4, a bill which simply strikes the tax-reporting requirement in the health reform law,” the letter reads. “We have heard from small business men and women in our states who have voiced concern that this provision is burdensome and unnecessary, and could potentially undermine our nation’s economic recovery. Repealing this provision would be an important and practical way to improve the Affordable Care Act. We are confident that the Senate can quickly act on H.R. 4 once the House has passed it.”

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel responded to the letter by urging Senate Democrats to allow a vote to repeal the health care law in full, although he did not dismiss the Senators’ request out of hand. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has vowed to block any attempts by Republicans to schedule a repeal vote.

“While we support eliminating the 1099 requirement, it is far from the only job-destroying provision in Washington Democrats’ law,” Steel said. “Now that the House has passed a law to repeal it, the best course would be for the Senate to do the same, and I hope these Senators are pressing Senate Majority Leader Reid to do just that.”

House Republicans are scheduled to unveil their next steps for dealing with the health care law later Thursday, including what policies they would seek to implement as a substitute to the law they voted to repeal. Twice last year, Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) pushed legislation to repeal the 1099 provision, but it was defeated on the floor as Democrats and Republicans haggled over competing bills that would essentially accomplish the same thing.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee called the letter from Cantwell, Klobuchar and Nelson a political smokescreen.

“This election-cycle posturing on the part of Democrats like Ben Nelson and others raises several obvious questions — why did they vote for the 1099 reporting requirement in the first place?” Brian Walsh said. “Voters will see through these transparent political games as Senate Democrats refuse to allow a debate, and a vote, on repeal.”

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