But even as Senate Republicans lobby for a repeal vote, it remains more likely that the House would move first to roll back the tax.
House GOP leaders have discussed attaching a repeal of the tax to whatever stopgap spending bill they receive from the Senate, a measure they could receive as late as Sunday. The current government funding measure expires at the end of the next day, Sept. 30.
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidIf Gorsuch pick leads to 'crisis,' Dems should look in mirror first Senate confirms Mulvaney to be Trump’s budget chief Democrats declare victory after Puzder bows out MORE (D-Nev.) has already said that he would amend the funding measure to keep the government running through Nov. 15, and to strip House-passed language that would defund the healthcare law.
GOP senators are pushing for other amendment votes related to ObamaCare, but Reid, who opposed a nonbinding measure backing repeal of the medical device tax, could easily stand in the way.
Still, Sens. John BarrassoJohn BarrassoPruitt confirmation sets stage for Trump EPA assault Overnight Energy: EPA pick Pruitt set for Friday vote | Dems plan all-night protest | Trump nixes Obama coal mining rule Judge orders release of EPA nominee’s emails MORE (R-Wyo.) and John HoevenJohn HoevenGOP senators unveil bill to give Congress control of consumer bureau budget Dem senator: DeVos bigger threat to education than grizzlies Senate set for high-noon vote to confirm DeVos MORE (R-N.D.) said they expected a repeal measure to be offered as an amendment, and Hatch said that he would push to get the medical device tax in the discussions over the debt limit if opponents can’t get it repealed in the funding debate.
Sens. John McCainJohn McCainTrump names McMaster new national security adviser How does placing sanctions on Russia help America? THE MEMO: Trump's wild first month MORE (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamTrump’s feud with the press in the spotlight Senators eye new sanctions against Iran Republicans play clean up on Trump's foreign policy MORE (R-S.C.) first broached the idea of considering a repeal of the tax on Monday.
It’s easy to see why Republicans would latch on to medical device tax, given that it’s among the more unpopular parts of the Affordable Care Act among Democrats.
Opponents of the tax say it would put tens of thousands of jobs at risk, and put a crimp on a high-tech field that creates pacemakers, artificial hearts and an array of devices.
"We have a lot of very brilliant companies that are right on the cusp and that just puts them right off the cusp," Hatch said.
The Senate overwhelmingly approved a nonbinding measure – 79-20 – backing the repeal of the tax during the debate over its budget resolution this year.
Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharDrug importation from other countries will save dollars and lives Top antitrust senators call for Sessions to scrutinize AT&T-Time Warner merger Senate advances Trump's Commerce pick MORE (D-Minn.) and Al FrankenAl FrankenPruitt confirmation sets stage for Trump EPA assault AT&T, Time Warner defend deal The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Minn.) – whose state has a healthy medical device industry – have both been out front in pushing for repeal.
Sen. Kay HaganKay HaganLinking repatriation to job creation Former Sen. Kay Hagan in ICU after being rushed to hospital GOP senator floats retiring over gridlock MORE (D-N.C.) recently joined legislation to roll back the tax as well, and other vulnerable Democratic senators backed the earlier budget vote.
In the House, a repeal measure sponsored by Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) has roughly 260 co-sponsors, including some three dozen Democrats.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Whip Dick DurbinDick Durbin McConnell: I’m very sympathetic to 'Dreamers' Senate Dems move to nix Trump's deportation order Dem senators call for independent Flynn probe MORE (D-Ill.) said he too could be open to backing a repeal measure with more teeth, as long as it didn't hurt the overall funding for the healthcare law.
“I have said from the beginning we should be open to changes in the Affordable Care Act,” said Durbin, who also voted for this year's budget amendment. “That is one I would consider – as long as the revenue is replaced, so there is no net loss in revenue.”
But both Reid and Senate Finance Chairman Max BaucusMax BaucusFive reasons why Tillerson is likely to get through Business groups express support for Branstad nomination The mysterious sealed opioid report fuels speculation MORE (D-Mont.) were among the 20 senators to oppose the budget measure. Baucus told reporters on Tuesday that it would be “unwise” to try to repeal the tax.
Supporters of the tax say they don’t believe the tax would hurt innovation in the medical device field, and that the healthcare law could eventually offset at least some of the cost of the tax.
Increasing the number of insured people in the U.S., supporters of the tax say, would also spark even more demand for medical devices.
Peter Schroeder and Erik Wasson contributed.