Toomey, Casey plan to strip Obamacare tax wins Senate OK

Sen. Pat Toomey, left (R., Pa.), and Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.). (File Photos)

WASHINGTON -- A plan co-sponsored by both Pennsyvlania senators that would repeal a tax on the sale of medical devices -- created to help fund President Obama's health care law -- won overhelming, bipartisan Senate support Thursday night.

The amendment to a proposed budget was approved 79-20. It would roll back the 2.3 percent tax on the sale of medical devices such as pacemakers and artificial joints.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) said the tax would have a huge impact nationally, but particularly in Pennsylvania, which he said ranks among the top three states in terms of producing such devices. Many come from the medical industry in southeastern PA, he said.

"It is very important to Pennsylvania, to the economy, to jobs, to the innovation that’s happening ... and it’s important to people’s health care," he said Thursday morning, before the vote.

In a statement after the vote Thursday night he said the tax would cost Pennsylvania's economy $100 million a year.

Toomey and Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) were two of 29 co-sponsors of the amendment. Its prime sponsor was Utah Republican Orrin Hatch.

The vote, though, was largely symbolic. It was passed as an amendment to the Senate Democratic budget, which is non-binding.

Still, Republicans were energized by the opportunity to offer a bipartisan rebuke to at least a piece of Obama's signature law.

The lopsided vote "has to be a (White House) embarassment," the New York Times'  Jonathan Weisman wrote on Twitter.