Hopes for ending the federal government shutdown dimmed over the weekend after Senate Democrats and Republicans failed to find common ground over a stop-gap budget bill, with a vote scheduled for noon today that’s not expected to resolve the impasse.
Democrats in the Upper Chamber last week united to stop passage of a House bill to fund the government for another two weeks that would in part have put a two-year pause on the medical device tax.
The 2.3% excise tax on U.S. medical device revenues was in effect for two years before a two-year moratorium began in 2016. It went back into effect at the beginning of this year, although the IRS said this week that it will not enforce any penalties for late payments of the medtech levy.
The House voted 230-197 to pass the stopgap bill, which also grants a six-year extension to Medicaid’s Children’s Health Insurance Program and pause other levies enacted as part of Obamacare, including the “Cadillac tax” for two years retroactive to Jan. 1 and the health insurance tax for one year starting in 2019.
But Senate Democrats successfully stalled a vote on the measure Friday because it does not address restoring the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects hundreds of thousands of kids from being deported.
Legislators spent the weekend trying to negotiate a compromise, to no avail, leading majority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell last night to schedule a vote for mid-day today. Minority leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y. held fast, saying more talk is needed, Politico reported.
A bipartisan proposal would reopen the government through Feb. 8 in return for McConnell’s promise to hold an immigration vote before then. But Senate Democrats said they are skeptical that House leader Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) would take up an immigration bill even if one passed the Senate, according to the website. During the last government shutdown in 2013 Ryan refused to introduce an immigration measure passed along from the Senate.
Last night Ryan said the House would accept a short-term bill through Feb. 8 but would only commit to an immigration bill “that the president supports to fix this problem,” the site reported.