WASHINGTON -- Republican lawmakers may eventually be able to win small concessions from Democrats with respect to the president’s health care law, but not during negotiations over a continuing resolution to fund the government or a debate over raising the debt ceiling, according to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill), the second most powerful Democrat in the Senate.
Appearing on CBS’ "Face the Nation," Durbin said that he himself would look at the proposal to repeal Obamacare’s medical device tax that House Republicans are pushing for in their newest continuing resolution. But he won't do it “with a gun to my head.”
From the transcript:
BOB SCHIEFFER: What about repealing this tax on health care devices? What about that?
SENATOR RICHARD DURBIN: Isn't it interesting, Bob, that --
BOB SCHIEFFER: Medical devices.
SENATOR RICHARD DURBIN: -- the Republicans -- yes, medical devices. Isn't it interesting, the Republicans, who talk so much about deficit reduction, have sent us over an amendment which adds $30 billion to the deficit and takes it right out of the health care reform act? That is the height of irresponsibility. We can even talk about the future of that tax; let's do it in a responsible way with replacement revenue I predict that the Senate is going to reject this House overture that was sent to us last night.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, I mean, but wouldn't that be kind of a popular thing, to do away with a tax on wheelchairs and things like that? I mean, that seems to me that, in the kind of environment we're in now, that might be something you could get together with them on.
SENATOR RICHARD DURBIN: Well, I support taking a look at the medical device tax. Keep in mind, though, that we anticipate millions of more patients using medical devices with some profit associated with it to the medical device companies. That's why the tax is there.
But I'm willing to look at that, but not with a gun to my head. Not with the prospect of shutting down the government. That's what the president said, that's what we've said. There should be a constructive, positive, bipartisan conversation.
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has said that if the Senate votes down the current continuing resolution, GOP leaders will attach another Obamacare-related provision to the next one. With many other Democratic senators supportive of repealing the medical device tax, it seems likely that the provision will remain on the table, even with Durbin’s stated opposition to such a strategy.