By Bernie Becker - 05/20/14 05:46 PM EDT
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday that he would block any GOP attempts to repeal ObamaCare’s medical device tax as part of a package to revive dozens of expired tax breaks.
Republicans voted last week to block the legislation to restore the tax breaks, commonly known as extenders, after a spat with Reid and Democrats over amendments and floor procedure.
GOP senators had pushed to attach a repeal of the medical device tax, an idea that has support on both sides of the aisle, to the extenders package.
But Reid and Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) balked at that idea, arguing that amendments to the bill should only be on expired or expiring tax breaks.
Wyden had taken that approach when the Finance panel considered the legislation in April. The group of more than 50 expired tax breaks extended in the legislation includes popular incentives for business research and small business expensing, and other preferences dubbed corporate pork by critics.
Wyden told reporters Tuesday that he was discussing amendments with the top Republican on the Finance panel, Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), as he tries to reach an agreement to get the tax break package back on the Senate floor.
But Wyden, who backed repealing the medical device tax in a nonbinding vote last year, didn’t sound any more interested in allowing a device vote this time around. Instead, Wyden suggested that Republicans should concentrate on amendments like rolling back tax credits for the wind industry.
“My colleagues have plenty of amendments on extenders to offer,” Wyden said. “It seems to me that’s, given what happened in the Finance Committee, that’s what we ought to deal with.”
With Reid taking the same approach, it raises the question of whether the extenders package will meet a similar fate if it hits the Senate floor again.
Reid has also opposed repeal the medical device tax, and often resisted GOP efforts to roll back parts of the healthcare law.
“They can have as many amendments as practical to change the bill that's on the floor and there's plenty of amendments that need to be offered on that,” Reid said. “We have a lot on our side. So the answer is no.”