House votes to delay Obamacare by a year and cut medical device tax, setting up government shutdown

By George Chidi
Sunday, September 29, 2013 0:28 EDT
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The U.S. House of Representatives voted Saturday to pass two amendments to a government funding bill that would delay the implementation of the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — for one year and lift a tax on medical devices designed to help fund the Act.

The amendment to delay implementation has been all but guaranteed by Senate leaders to be stripped from the bill. The result of the vote Saturday is broadly expected to leave too little legislative time to avert a shutdown of the government before compromise language can be agreed upon by both chambers.

On Friday, the Democratically led U.S. Senate sent the budget bill back to the House having voted to strip out its provisions to defund Obamacare, along with a warning that they would similarly reject any further attempts to defund the health care reform act, lauded by many as President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

Having failed to reach a compromise between the two versions of the government funding bill, the House and Senate are guaranteeing a shutdown of the federal government as mandated by the Republican-led House.

Debate in the House grew strident in the late hours Saturday, with Rep. David Scott (D-GA) telling Republican colleagues that “your hate for this president is coming before the love of this country.”

The House voted on the Blackburn amendment to the budget bill to delay the implementation of health care reform by one year on an almost completely partisan 231-192 vote, with two Democrats — Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Jim Matheson of Utah — joining Republicans in support and two New York Republicans — Chris Gibson and Richard Hanna — voting against the measure.

The budget bill amendment eliminating a 2.3 percent tax on medical device sales passed 248-174 on a largely partisan vote, with 24 Democrats joining Republicans to drop the $29 billion tax. The measure appears popular in the Senate, which agreed in a non-binding vote earlier this year to eliminate the tax. But with a government shutdown looming and legislative delays risky, the timing makes the change politically difficult.

Members unanimously approved a separate bill to continue pay for military members in the event of a shutdown.

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