At a Capitol press conference Thursday, U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta and a small cadre of bipartisan House members said they would back the passage of a government funding plan if the medical device tax portion of Obamacare is also repealed.
It’s the latest attempt to end the 3-day-old partial government shutdown that began Tuesday.
The tax, which has been referred to as the pacemaker tax, is something that Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and House have publicly stated they would support repealing.
“Someone needs to stand up and be a voice of reason and try to bring both sides to the table,” said Barletta, R-Hazleton. “We in the House have voted three times to fund the government. I believe repealing the pacemaker tax would find support in the Senate and represent a major victory over Obamacare’s grip on the American people.”
The legislation proposed includes a funding of the government at the post-sequestration level of $986 billion and a repeal of the medical device tax, a significant component of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
“When more than 10,000 federal employees now out of work in the nine counties I represent, and people are not receiving the services they’re used to, it’s time to do something,” Barletta said. “Repealing the pacemaker tax is common ground and is good policy.”
Nineteen members of Congress attended the press event, 11 Republicans and eight Democrats.
Fellow U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Allentown, organized the event and has been outspoken since the hours before the shutdown took effect, praised the Democrats that joined in the event.
“My Democratic friends have put their necks out,” said Dent. “They’ve agreed to a change in the health care law. That wasn’t easy for them.”
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville, offered support for the idea and kind words for his Lehigh Valley neighbor Dent.
“Congressman Dent’s effort to repeal the medical device tax is a constructive idea that should be considered seriously by both sides. I appreciate his willingness to find a way to try to end the shutdown,” Toomey said.
Rep. Tom Marino, R-Lycoming Township, had no comment on the proposal. Efforts to get comments from Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton and Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic, were unsuccessful.