Published January 20, 2011
WASHINGTON -- Three Senate Democrats say they'd be supportive of House-passed legislation that repeals the requirement for businesses to comply with a burdensome reporting provision in the new health care law.
Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Maria Cantwell of Washington and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota wrote House Speaker John Boehner Thursday, telling him the Senate would move quickly if the House passed a bill to repeal the provision that requires nearly 40 million U.S. businesses to file tax forms for every vendor that sells them more than $600 in goods.
The 1099 provision, as it's called, is scheduled to start in 2012 and is expected to raise $19 billion over the next decade in order to fund the $1 trillion, 10-year health care law that is the signature achievement of the Obama administration.
The repeal of the 1099 reporting rule is not a big stretch in the repeal movement initiated by Republicans, who voted in the House Wednesday to scrap the whole law. Even the White House wants to scrap what has been widely criticized as a paperwork nightmare, and the Treasury Department has already taken action to limit its scope.
But the 1099 rule repeal is a first step in reversing any aspect of the law since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has vowed to prevent a full repeal vote in the Senate. And if it ever did make it out of that chamber, the White House has signaled it would veto any attempt to overturn President Obama's signature legislative accomplishment.
Still, Sen Jim DeMint, R-S.C., intends to introduce a bill next week that his spokesman says is "identical" to House-passed legislation that repeals the new health care law. DeMint spokesman Wesley Denton told Fox News that the DeMint repeal effort will have "a number of cosponsors."
Late Wednesday, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., promised a vote to repeal in the chamber.
"The Democratic leadership in the Senate doesn't want to vote on this bill. But I assure you, we will," McConnell said in taped YouTube remarks e-mailed to the press.
Asked how a repeal vote could happen, given that Democrats control the Senate, McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told Fox News: "We have ways."
Stewart said many Democrats think arguing against repeal is a good political issue for them.
"So surely they'll want to bring it up, right?" Stewart asked.
One way for Republicans to bring a repeal bill to the Senate floor would be to try to offer it as an amendment to another piece of legislation. Another would be to call it up on its own, prompting Democrats to have to object on the record.
But it would be a rare find to have a Senate Democrat join a Republican-sponsored repeal in the Democratic-majority chamber.
Majority Republicans in the House stood unified for the 245-189 vote Wednesday to turn back the package that supporters say is vital to extending insurance coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans. Opponents call the law a stinker that will break the bank while limiting access to doctors and treatment.
The vote attracted only three Democrats to join Republicans to pass the repeal measure: Reps. Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Mike Ross of Arkansas. All are moderates who voted against all forms of the health care bill in 2009 and 2010.
Ten Democrats who voted against the health care bill did not vote to repeal.
On Thursday, the House voted 253-175 on a measure directing four committees -- Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, Education and Workforce, and Judiciary -- to work out draft alternatives that reflect the GOP's philosophy.
Republicans say there's no timeline for their "replace" legislation, but they could start advancing specific proposals by the summer.
Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said Wednesday he will hold a hearing to discuss the impact of the legislation on employers.
"This hearing provides us the opportunity to directly hear from employers about the higher taxes and new mandates that are in this law. This will also serve as a basis for how this Committee, and Congress, can best respond to the concerns of employers and workers and refocus its energy to develop common sense solutions that prioritize affordability, job creation, and economic growth," Camp said in a statement.
Whatever Republicans do, Democrats say they're confident the public will prefer the plan already in place, which would require all Americans to carry insurance, possibly through state-based insurance pools; offer tax credits to make insurance affordable; and close the Medicare doughnut hole. It would also eliminate Medicare Advantage and require employers to cover their workers.
"This (repeal) bill will not become law," said Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee. "We on this side are on the offense on this issue. We are an American truth squad. (Repeal) will not prevail."
Fox News' Trish Turner and Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.