The medical device tax repeal is part of the continuing resolution bill drafted and passed over the weekend by the House of Representatives, but the bill would also suspend the individual healthcare insurance enrollment mandate found in the Affordable Care Act. The one-year delay of the individual mandate has a precedent the employer mandate is already on a one-year delay – but Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has made it clear he would not consider such a bill, raising the likelihood that the government will not have a budget on the first day of fiscal 2014.
According to Politico, Reid has advised President Obama against meeting with top Republicans over the continuing resolution (CR) issue, and the House met Saturday, Sept. 28 to finalize and vote on its bill. The Senate was not in session Sept. 29, and apparently does not intend to convene this morning over the issue, which some observers declared made a shutdown nearly inevitable. Reid s stated intent to strip the Obamacare provision would require that the bill go through the Senate starting this afternoon and again through the House in substantially less than 24 hours.
Fiscal conservatives among Republicans might be taking a cue from polls indicating that more voters would blame the shutdown on the White House than was the case in previous polls. According to a Sept. 30 story at theHill.com, 46% of respondents would hang the shutdown on the GOP versus 36% who would pin it on the President. Those numbers are substantially different from the 51% to 33% share of blame assigned to the GOP and President, respectively, in a poll conducted toward the beginning of the month.
The device tax repeal is encoded into the House CR bill, but Reid voiced opposition specifically to the repeal, stating over the weekend that the Senate “will reject both the one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act and the repeal of the medical device tax.” However, Senate majority whip Dick Durban also went on record over the weekend on the topic of the tax, stating on the news program Face the Nation, “I’m willing to look at [the repeal of the device tax], but not with a gun to my head, not with the prospect of shutting down government.”