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Political Ping Pong Continues, Device Tax Repeal a No-Go

The political gamesmanship and wrangling to avert a government shutdown continued with the latest volley fired by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

On Monday afternoon, the Senate rejected amendments to a short-term spending bill proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives. The 54 to 46 vote along party lines made good on a vow by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) to reject a funding bill approved by the House early Sunday because it would delay parts of the healthcare law for one year and repeal the medical device tax.

Reid has said that repealing the medical device tax, would be a no-go as part of the current budget negotiations, but would be willing to consider it separately after a budget bill is passed.

Immediately after the Senate convened Monday afternoon, Reid moved to table the House amendments. That exercise required a simple majority and was accomplished with Democratic votes.

According to multiple political news outlets, House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) is presenting Republicans with an option that would include a one-year delay of the cornerstone of the Affordable Care Act—the so-called individual mandate—while adding a provision that would strip federal subsidies for lawmakers and their staffs.

Democrats and the White House already have said they would reject such a proposal.

This leaves little time for a deal before the shutdown begins at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

The negotiations have put Democratic backers of the medical device tax repeal in a tough spot. The Senate vote along party lines on Monday included votes from Democrats who have been active in efforts to strip the Affordable Care Act of the device tax, including Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken (Minn.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), and others.

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