GOP Leaders Propose Obamacare Delay, Repeal of Medical Device Tax for CR (Updated)

Gardner said there is strong opposition to the medical device tax in the 2010 health care law. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Gardner said there is strong opposition to the medical device tax in the 2010 health care law. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted September 28, 2013 at 12:17pm

Updated 12:44 p.m. | Heading into a crucial day in the government shutdown showdown, House Republican lawmakers said Saturday that they expect their leaders to propose Obamacare-related amendments to a Senate-passed stopgap spending bill, acknowledging that would likely cause at least a short shutdown.

A one-year delay in the implementation of the 2010 health care law and repeal of a medical device tax appeared to be the most contentious add-ons under consideration as Republicans headed into a noon meeting with leadership to hash out a plan that could lead to a vote — at some point this weekend — on a continuing resolution that would keep the government funded past Monday.

Rep. Michael C. Burgess, R-Texas, and other GOP sources said leadership would include the Obamacare delay, the medical-device-tax repeal, and language moving the expiration date of the CR back to Dec. 15. (The Senate moved the expiration date to Nov. 15.) Additionally, the House may vote on a bill to ensure military pay in the event of a shutdown.

Other suggestions of bargaining chips included a stop to the health care subsidies for lawmakers and staff who are expected to get their insurance from Obamacare exchanges.

Rep. Dennis A. Ross, R-Fla., said Saturday morning that he was hopeful his proposed amendment to the CR would be included, one that would subject all of Obamacare’s provisions to every member of Congress.

“I am hopeful that once all Members are subjected to it, everyone who doesn’t already will realize how bad this law is and join together and eliminate Obamacare,” he said in a statement on his website.

But would it fly in the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said any rider related to Obamacare would be a nonstarter when the chamber returns to take up a House-passed revision on Monday afternoon?

“Of course not,” Ross said. “It’s the right thing to do, but it’s a tool. It’s leverage.”

Ultimately, Ross said, the one-year delay of the health care law was the most likely outcome from GOP leaders.

Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., also noted that “opposition to the medical device tax is stronger than it’s ever been.” But Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., indicated that repeal of the tax is “not enough” to get people to vote for the CR.

Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., said he thought “red state Democrats” would ultimately take the bait on Obamacare-related provisions, naming vulnerable Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, Mark Begich of Alaska and Kay Hagan of North Carolina.

Lamborn said he isn’t sure the Senate can act “that quickly,” given its scheduled return on Monday at 2 p.m., and suggested that he thought a shutdown of “a matter of hours” — twelve at the most — was looking likely.

Prior to the critical Republican Conference meeting, leaders huddled in the speaker’s office to come up with a game plan.

A senior Democratic member told CQ Roll Call that Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, was sending GOP emissaries to key Democratic offices to take the temperature of what they would and wouldn’t accept in a CR deal. Boehner’s office denied that such an effort was in play.

Abby Livingston contributed to this report.


An earlier version of this post indicated the CR would be amended with a provision to pay troops in the event of a shutdown. The House will vote on that as a separate measure.