Senator Lisa Murkowski today took to the floor of the Senate and expressed Alaskans' frustrations with the everyday impacts of the current government shutdown, endorsing her colleague Senator Susan Collins' (R-ME) proposal to fund the federal government for six months while repealing the medical device tax on pacemakers, joint replacements, defibrillators and other items from the Affordable Care Act -- a move that already has bipartisan support in Congress. Also, the proposal would institute the much-needed flexibility in how federal agencies administer the across-the-board sequestration cuts that Senator Murkowski has pressed the administration on for months.
"When you think about small, rational, reasonable steps that might get us to a place where we can stop the madness and break this impasse, this is a proposal that would pull back on the medical device tax with an offset, so it doesn't add to our deficit," said Murkowski. "This also funds the government with a six-month continuing resolution, as well as providing flexibility and oversight to the sequestration process -- this sounds pretty rational . We need to remember who we are working for -- whether it's the crab fisherman who wants to get out in the water, or the family in Galena who wants to know if they're going to get their moose, or the guys at Seong's Sushi Bar and Chinese in Juneau -- who need to have their customers start coming back through the doors."
As part of the Affordable Care Act, there is a controversial 2.3% medical device tax that is added to items like pacemakers, artificial hips, defibrillators and tongue depressors. In March, a bipartisan group of 79 Senators voted to repeal the tax.
"The country expects us to get our act together, and they expect us to do so without delay," said Murkowski. "They're not interested in hearing who is going to gain political advantage here everybody is losing in this when we cannot come together with a plan and the resolve to do the job that we are tasked to do: basic governing."
BACKGROUNDER: Senator Murkowski opposes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and believes the law should repealed or permanently delayed. Earlier this year, she co-sponsored S. 232 -- the Medical Device Access and Innovation Protection Act -- to repeal the medical device tax. On March 13, she voted for an amendment offered by Senator Cruz to prohibit the use of funds to implement the ACA, and on March 22, she voted for an amendment offered by Senator Cruz to repeal the Affordable Care Act. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, she has also voted repeatedly against funding the Affordable Care Act and to prohibit implementation of the employer mandate and individual mandate.