By Jason Millman - 02/02/11 11:00 PM EST
After months of failing to agree on how to repeal an unpopular IRS reporting provision included in the healthcare reform act, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to strike it down Wednesday night.
The Senate voted 81-17 on the 1099-reporting requirement, with 17 Democrats voting against the measure.
The healthcare reform provision requires businesses to report for each vendor annual purchases of goods or services of more than $600. The House, which must still approve its own version of the legislation, has signaled it would move quickly to repeal the 1099 requirement.
For months, President Obama has called on lawmakers to repeal the provision, but Democrats and Republicans have clashed over how to offset the $19 billion in lost revenue. Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) each pushed separate bills last year that failed to garner enough support.
The repeal measure approved Wednesday night – an amendment raised by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) on an aviation bill – would offset the cost of repeal by authorizing the Office of Management and Budget to identify unobligated funds. The amendment was almost identical to a bill offered by Johanns, but the Stabenow measure specified funds could not be taken out of the Social Security Administration to offset the costs.
Some Democrats expressed unease with giving OMB the power to cut federal funds.
“What is convenient is not always right,” Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said on the Senate floor before the vote. “The Constitution places in our hands, and ours alone, the authority to appropriate funds. We cannot statutorily pass that buck and we should not.”
Levin, backed by Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), offered an alternative 1099 amendment Wednesday evening that he said would eliminate tax loopholes for the oil and gas industry to fund repeal. The amendment failed 44-54, with a number of Democrats voting against.