Harry Reid clarifies, calls repealing medical device tax ‘stupid’

September 26, 2013

Clarifying comments he made earlier Thursday, aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said that he does not agree with the idea of repealing a tax on medical devices used to fund the new federal health-care law as part of a short-term spending measure to fund government operations.

At his weekly news conference, Reid called the tax itself "stupid," but later his spokesman, Adam Jentleson, sent an e-mail clarifying the senator's comments.

"Senator Reid thinks the idea of attaching the medical device tax repeal to the CR or the debt ceiling is ‘stupid,'" Jentleson said. "Senator Reid supports the medical device tax, and his position is clear from his record: he voted for the medical device tax in the Affordable Care Act and against repealing it during the budget debate earlier this year. His position has not changed, and the Senate will reject any CR that includes a repeal of the medical device tax. If the House wants to avoid a Republican government shutdown, they should pass a clean CR. Period.”

Reid is at odds with a majority of the Senate on this issue, which voted 79 to 20 earlier this year in a largely symbolic vote to repeal the tax. Thirty-three Democrats and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who caucuses with Democrats, voted to end the tax.

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), the main proponent of repealing the tax, this week called it "a stupid dumbass idea."

"I can’t believe it, but the Democrats insisted on it, because they needed $30 billion more to pay for this monstrosity called Obamacare. And so they’ve caused the loss of a lot of, of a number of companies who just live with that," Hatch said. "We have a lot of very brilliant companies that are right on the cusp and that just puts them right off the cusp. And frankly, it’s one of the stupidest votes I’ve seen in my life, one of the stupidest aspects of that whole Obamacare bill and there are so many stupid aspects of that, it would take all day to explain them.”

Follow Ed O'Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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Aaron Blake | September 26, 2013