Hatch: Tax break deal not close

The Senate’s top GOP tax writer said Wednesday that a repeal of ObamaCare’s medical device tax remains an obstacle to passing a measure to restore dozens of expired tax breaks.

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Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told reporters in the Capitol that he and Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) had yet to strike a deal on potential amendments for the tax break package.

“This is something that’s going to take a little bit of time,” Hatch, the top Republican on the Finance panel, said as he was flanked by Wyden. “We’ve got an agreement that we’re going to work through it."

Republicans largely support reviving the more than 50 tax breaks, commonly known as extenders. But they also blocked the extenders package last week because of the broader Senate fight over amendments and floor procedure.

GOP senators have pushed to repeal the medical device tax in the healthcare law as part of the tax break legislation, noting that 79 senators backed scrapping the tax in a nonbinding vote last year.

“We’ve got to get that resolved,” Hatch said. “The vast majority of people in the Senate want it done, and I certainly want it done.”

But Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Wyden, who was one of those 79 senators, have said they are opposed to allowing a medical device tax vote.

They say that there are plenty of potential amendments dealing specifically with the expired tax breaks, which include incentives for business research and small business expensing.

Wyden had hoped to get an agreement on amendments and perhaps even bring the bill back to the floor as soon as this week.

But with the Senate on recess next week, it’s an open question when the bill will hit the floor again – especially as long as the impasse over the medical device tax continues.

Both senators and tax lobbyists have said they don’t expect a final extenders deal to make it through Congress until after November’s elections.

Lobbyists have pressed the Senate to act on the tax breaks, but GOP senators who blocked the measure last week said they believe the business community is confident the legislation will move through eventually.