Senate Dems, House GOP huddle before key shutdown vote

Senate Democrats and House Republicans are holding last-minute meetings before the Senate votes to reject the latest House-passed stopgap to keep government funded beyond midnight. 

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Senate Democrats will hold a caucus meeting at 1:15 p.m. Monday, according to a Democratic aide, to discuss party strategy before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) speaks on the Senate floor shortly after 2 p.m.

House Republicans have scheduled a conference meeting at 2 p.m.

Reid plans to strip language delaying ObamaCare and repealing the law’s medical device tax with simple majority votes later Monday. Because the House-amended stopgap is coming in the form of a message to the Senate, Reid does not need 60 votes to strip the House-passed language.

Once the Senate acts, it will send the funding measure back to Republicans.

While some Democrats support repealing the medical device tax, they say it is not appropriate to do so in exchange for keeping the government funded.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) noted the House bill does not pay for the tax’s repeal.

“Sen. Reid as recently as five minutes ago said we’re going to handle this message from the House the same way we handled the first bill,” she said. “We’re going to strip anything extraneous from it and send them back a clean [continuing resolution].

“This just shows how hypocritical they can be putting a repeal of the tax in there and not replacing the revenues,” she added.

Repealing the tax would cost the treasury $30 billion over 10 years.

Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) supports repealing the tax but not as a concession made to House Republicans to keep the government open.

“I am willing to look at that. But not with a gun to my head, not with a prospect of shutting down the government,” he said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

— Russell Berman contributed to this report.