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02/02/2011  –  Senate repeals part of health care law

JENNIFER HABERKORN | 2/2/11 6:10 PM EST

The Senate voted Wednesday for the first time to repeal a piece of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, rolling back a new tax reporting requirement that’s been universally panned by business owners.

The amendment to repeal the 1099 reporting requirement passed 81-17 with broad bipartisan support.

The provision was one that Obama identified in his State of the Union speech as something that Democrats were willing to change.

The Senate voted several times last year on repealing the requirement, but all the attempts failed amid partisan bickering over how to pay for it. Republicans made an attempt to repeal the provision by taking money from the health reform law’s prevention and wellness fund. Democrats tried to repeal it without paying for it.

The provision would have required business owners to file 1099 tax documents on all cumulative purchases from a single vendor that total more than $600 in a year.

It was included in the health law because it would have raised about $17 billion in previously uncollected taxes. A bipartisan collection of business groups have opposed the provision, arguing that it would bury them in paperwork.

The amendment was proposed by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).

“This amendment is a common-sense solution for business owners who need to be focused on creating jobs, not filling out paperwork for the IRS,” she said.

Democrats blocked a similar amendment from Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) last year.

He had offered the amendment this week, but Stabenow’s got the vote.

“The net effect is that, the way I look at it, my desire is to get this repealed,” Johanns told POLITICO. “It’s a victory for the business community, churches and charities and state and local governments. So I’m not creating a fuss. I’d be happy to vote for the amendment whether it has my name on it or hers.”

The repeal would be paid for by requiring the Office of Management and Budget to find the funding in unspent but appropriated funds.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) offered another amendment to repeal the provision but paid for it by issuing new taxes on oil companies.   He argued that lawmakers have to decide where money would be spent — not OMB. The Stabenow amendment, he said, would be “abandoning our role in appropriating spending.”   “We cannot pass that buck and we should not,” Levin said.   His amendment failed, 44-54.