In a largely symbolic move, the Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday night to repeal one of the taxes that is paying for President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care overhaul.
By a vote of 79 to 20, the Senate moved to rescind the 2.3 percent tax on manufacturers and importers of medical devices. The tax will raise nearly $2 billion in new revenue in 2013 and $20 billion over the next seven years.
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Thursday night’s vote was nonbinding since it was on an amendment to a Senate budget resolution which is not likely to result in a budget plan that Republican-controlled House would agree to.
The medical device tax is one of $24.6 billion in 2013 tax increases mandated by the Affordable Care Act which took effect on Jan. 1.
But the lopsided margin on the medical device vote indicated the discontent among senators with one tax which helps fund the Affordable Care Act.
Twenty-eight of the 79 senators who voted to repeal the tax on Thursday night had voted for the Affordable Care Act in 2010.
Of the Democratic senators up for re-election and in potentially close races, next year, only three voted against the amendment to kill the tax: Senate Finance Committee chairman Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.
The bipartisan amendment to rescind the tax was co-sponsored by Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah and Amy Klobuchar, D- Minn.
At the end of last year during the “fiscal cliff” negotiations, Klobuchar and other senators had worked to delay at least for one year the tax on medical device manufacturers. But that effort failed.
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In a statement after the vote, Stephen Ubl, the president of the Advanced Medical Technology Association, a group which represents American medical technology firms, said, “The reasons behind mounting support to repeal the tax are clear: Across the country, this tax is cutting high-quality jobs and investments in tomorrow's treatments and cures at companies large and small. We encourage leaders in Congress and the Administration to seize on this momentum and act to repeal this harmful tax”.
In another vote Thursday night on an amendment to the Senate budget resolution, senators rejected by a vote of 59 to 40 the budget blueprint passed by the House on Wednesday.
Forty GOP senators voted for the House plan while five opposed it. All Democratic senators voted against the House plan.
The rejection of the House budget plan indicated how far the Senate Democrats and House Republicans would need to go to reach an accord on a budget plan for the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1.