WASHINGTON - It isn't every day that more than half the Democrats in the Senate vote to repeal part of President Obama's health-care law.
But that's what happened Thursday night when the Senate voted 79-20 to repeal a 2.3 percent sales tax on medical devices such as catheters, pacemakers and MRI machines, which was intended to help to finance coverage for the uninsured that starts next year.
The medical device industry, a technology leader that provides lots of well-paying jobs around the country, has been lobbying to repeal the tax. And Republicans were hoping Friday that the vote signals a new willingness by Democrats to defy the president on unpopular provisions of his signature law.
But others pointed out that the vote was nonbinding, amounting to budget guidance. The actual repeal of the tax is far from a done deal, and things might have come out quite differently if senators had to confront spending cuts or tax increases to fill in a 10-year, $30 billion revenue hole that would leave.
Nonetheless, 33 of the chamber's 53 Democrats joined all 45 Republicans in voting for the repeal amendment by Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. Four out of seven members of the Democratic leadership voted for it. Two independent senators who caucus with the Democrats split their votes for and against.
Other targets: a tax on health insurance plans and a Medicare cost control board.
How Arizona's senators voted on a measure to repeal a sales tax on medical devices:
• Sen. John McCain, R - yes
• Sen. Jeff Flake, R - yes