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Durbin: Democrats willing to negotiate on medical device tax

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says Democrats are willing to include ObamaCare’s medical device tax in a spending bill that would keep the government funded.  

“We can work out something, I believe, on the medical device tax. That was one of the proposals from the Republicans,” Durbin said on CNN’s “New Day” Tuesday morning. “As long as we replace the revenue so that we don’t put a hole in our deficit and respond to this in a responsible fashion. That’s one thing the Republicans want to talk about it. Let’s sit down, and put that on the table.” 

The Senate meets Tuesday morning to discuss how to proceed after both chambers’ failure to reach a deal by midnight led to the first government shutdown in 17 years. 

In the last week, House GOP lawmakers passed several government spending resolutions that included language to defund President Obama’s healthcare law, a delay in the individual mandate and a repeal of the medical device tax.

The law currently imposes a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices. The Senate, however, stripped that language already or tabled those measures. 

“We think that enough moderate Republicans are starting to stand up and speak out in the Senate and in the House. They reject the Ted Cruz, Tea Party devastating approach to dealing with this issue. They want to be responsible legislators,” Durbin said. “Even if they don’t like ObamaCare, they don’t want to see a shutdown, this kind of spiteful strategy that we’re in the midst of right now.”

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), for example, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Tuesday morning that ObamaCare is the law of the land but expects there will be “tremendous problems” with it. Flake, however, did not endorse the campaign other Republicans promoted.

“The notion that we were going to get the Democrats to agree to delay or repeal it on the [continuing resolution], I think wasn’t the right strategy,” Flake said. 

The freshman senator is only one of a handful of Republicans who rejected these tactics. 

“All we’re trying to do is keep the American people from being forced into buying into exchanges before they’re even up and running or before we know how much they cost,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on CNN’s “New Day” Tuesday.

A core element of ObamaCare, insurance exchanges, went live Tuesday. 

“Is it small? Is it worth a shutdown? Of course not. But the president has, the Senate compromised that we go back and forth.”

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If the Senate rejects the offer to go to conference and compromise Tuesday morning, Issa said, “then they’re rejecting the constitutional process.” 

“We did not shut down the government. We offered to the Senate again and again things to keep the government fully funded.” 

The budget was last in the House’s court as leadership scrambled to figure out how to avert a shutdown Monday. The GOP, though, didn’t budge from its commitment to weaken parts of ObamaCare. 

“I think this is merging into the debt ceiling fight, frankly. The [continuing resolution is] only part of it,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) on “Morning Joe.” 

Congress has until Oct. 17 to tackle the debt ceiling before the Treasury Department loses its authority to continue borrowing money, sending the nation into default.

“Perhaps we can get a short-term CR and then have a much larger deal that would give us some budget stability,” Cole suggested. 

White House press secretary Jay Carney said on “Morning Joe” that Republicans are engaging in similar strategies in both fiscal fights that are “irresponsible and reckless.” 

On the debt ceiling, Carney added, “The consequences of that are unknowable, but are catastrophic without question.” 

“We are in a very serious situation.”