Ways and Means Committee votes to repeal medical device excise tax

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Tax Hot TopicsThe House Ways and Means Committee approved a bill last week that would repeal the medical device excise tax. That legislation will go to the House floor the week of June 15.

The bill (H.R. 160) passed the committee by a 25‒14 vote, and is also expected to pass the full House. An earlier version would have repealed the tax retroactive to its inception in 2013, but the final bill approved by the committee would repeal the tax only for sales in quarters beginning after the date of enactment.

The House action represents only a small step toward repeal. The House has voted for full repeal in the past, yet the Senate and the White House present major obstacles. Even with Republicans controlling the Senate, they still need 60 votes to overcome filibusters and other procedural hurdles. Only one Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, Ron Kind of Wisconsin, voted for repeal. More Democrats in the Senate may support repeal, but a vote would be close, with many Democrats objecting to the $25 billion cost. Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said he didn’t think he could move the bill as stand-alone legislation, but would seek to attach it to other legislation.

If repeal survives the Senate, the White House still threatens a veto. The best hope for Republicans is likely through horse-trading with the president over other priorities or attaching the issue to a bill that is difficult for the president to veto.

Mel Schwarz
T +1 202 521 1564

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