- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Senate on Thursday voted to repeal a sales tax on medical devices that is part of President Obama’s health-care law, a rare bipartisan attempt to strip away a section of the controversial reforms.

Sens. Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican, and Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat, led the amendment, which passed on a 79-20 vote during debate over the chamber’s budget plan for the coming fiscal year.

As part of debate over the spending blueprint, the vote does not have the force of law. However, it showed that economic forces in Democrats’ home states hold enough sway for senators to turn against specific provisions within the Affordable Care Act.

“Today’s bipartisan vote to repeal the medical device tax is an important step in the right direction,” said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican. “Unfortunately, Obamacare remains a job-killer that grows the government and slows the economy, which is why it’s important to repeal the whole thing.”

Ms. Klobuchar said Minnesota contains 400 medical device companies that employ 35,000 people, amounting to “one of the bright spots in America’s economy.” She said the 2.3 percent tax stifles innovation and threatens America’s position as the top exporter of medical devices.

“While I’m proud to be a champion of [the health care law], I believe that the medical device tax is just not the way to pay for it,” said Sen. Al Franken, Minnesota Democrat, during floor debate.

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Ms. Klobuchar and Mr. Franken have joined Sens. Bob Casey Jr., Pennsylvania Democrat, and Joe Donnelly, Indiana Democrat, in sponsoring Mr. Hatch’s bill.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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