House GOP plan will add two-year repeal of medical device tax

October 15, 2013

House Republican leaders plan to push their own proposal to reopen the govt and raise the debt ceiling -- a plan that would give Republicans a delay of the medical device tax.

According to two Republicans leaving a closed door meeting of the caucus, their plan would add a two-year repeal of the medical device tax and include a provision eliminating the employer health-care contribution for members of Congress and White House officials.

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), one of the leading moderates in the House, confirmed the plan on MSNBC's "Daily Rundown."

"The speaker had said this: that the House is likely to launch an initiative, as early as today, that would do a few things: essentially use the same time frames for the debt limit and the CR as in the Senate negotiations ... it would strike the reinsurance tax -- the $63 per head tax for the large self-insurers and the large unions," Dent said. "That would be out and would replaced with a two-year delay of the medical device tax, plus a variation of the derivative of the Vitter language, minus the congressional staff. But I think it would affect Congress and the White House and White House staff."

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said the plan was designed to be attractive to Democrats and would follow time lines established in Senate negotiations -- funding government agencies until Jan. 15 and raising the debt ceiling until Feb. 7. He said the plan, which House leaders hope to vote on Tuesday, was well received by Republicans who opened their meeting with a joint singing of "Amazing Grace."

"We think we've enhanced it in a number of ways," Issa said of the Senate framework.

Asked how the House would react if Senate Democrats reject their changes, he said, "we haven't passed our bill. They haven't passed their bill. ... We today will pass a bill we believe the Senate should accept based on their likely negotiations."

Passage of the proposal in the House is no sure bet. Without Democratic support, it will need to get 217 votes from Republican members. Emerging from the meeting, Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) said many members have "sincere, deep concerns" with the plan, noting that he is willing to reopen the government but has not voted to raise the debt ceiling since 1997 and has vowed never to do so again.

Another Republican close to the leadership said "response was tepid" when Boehner laid out the proposal. "It's going to be a hell of a time" to get to 217, he said. "It's going to be dicey."

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Vincent Bzdek · October 15, 2013