With the deadline just hours away, Congress has a lot of work to do before almost certainly letting the government fall into a partial shutdown. This is what will (probably) happen today.
First, the Senate will convene at 2 p.m. and quickly kill the House-approved budget bill, which would also delay Obama's Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) for a year and repeal a related medical device tax. The Senate will then pass a “clean” bill that would fund the government without changing the ACA, which will go into effect tomorrow if it's not delayed.
The bill will go back to the House, where House Republicans will have just hours before the midnight deadline to either accept it (won't happen), outright reject it (unlikely), or offer a compromise (probable). But what compromise exists, after days and days of this grandstanding bullshit? The medical-device tax!
But...what's that? It's a 2.3% tax assigned to the manufacturers of medical devices, like pace makers or hip implants, who stand to make a lot more money because of Obamacare. Basically, the reasoning behind it is this: The ACA ensures more people will have medical insurance, which means more people will be able to afford the medical device manufacturers' products, so it makes sense to levy a tax – which will raise an estimated $30 billion over 10 years — against the manufacturers to help offset the cost of the ACA.
Of course, the medical device manufacturers don't see it that way, and they've spent more than $150 million fighting the tax through lobbyists. And it seems to be working – in April, the Senate voted 79-20 to repeal the tax, with more than 30 Democrats joining Republicans to vote against it.
Even with bipartisan support, though, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said the Senate won't accept such a compromise.
“To be absolutely clear, the Senate will reject both the one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act and the repeal of the medical device tax,” Reid said. “After weeks of futile political games from Republicans, we are still at square one: Republicans must decide whether to pass the Senate’s clean CR, or force a Republican government shutdown.”
So, basically: we're heading to a shutdown. Or our legislators will cave to lobbyist pressure from the medical device manufacturers. Either way, another great day for American Democracy.
[Image via AP]