Washington (CNN) – A repeal of the medical device tax may be a point of compromise between the House and Senate as the two houses of Congress work to end the government shutdown, the number two Democrat in the Senate said Tuesday.
"We can work on something, I believe, on the medical device tax. That was one of the proposals from Republicans, as long as we replace the revenue," Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said on CNN's "New Day."
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The medical device tax is a 2.3% excise tax created to in part fund Obamacare and went into effect at the beginning of 2013. The tax, which would raise about $30 billion in revenues over 10 years, is largely considered unpopular, including among some Democrats whose states harbor medical device employers. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, for example, penned an op-ed for a trade magazine advocating for a repeal last year while she was running for the Senate.
House Republicans attached a repeal of the tax, along with a one-year delay of Obamacare, to one of the short-term spending bills, also known as a continuing resolution, it sent to the Senate in the last few days. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate would not negotiate over Obamacare as long as it's attached to the spending bill.
Durbin said he's ready to put a medical device tax repeal "on the table," but only on one condition. House Republicans must first pass a short-term spending bill without any anti-Obamacare provisions. Then, he said, the Senate will be prepared to separately reconcile with House Republicans on Obamacare–but only if the government is open and functioning.
"Of course the conversation should continue, but let's not do it with our government shutdown," he told CNN's Kate Bolduan.
Reid made similar comments on the Senate floor late Monday night, rejecting the House's proposal to go to conference and work out a compromise.
"We will not go to conference with a gun to our head," Reid said.
Sen. Rand Paul, who's been calling for the two houses to go to conference, said he would support passing a continuing resolution that would fund the government for a week or two and allow lawmakers to reach an agreement in the meantime.
"I do agree that negotiating with the government closed probably to them appears like strong arm tactics," the Kentucky Republican said on "New Day."
Asked Tuesday how long Durbin predicts the shutdown will last, the senator said "I hope it isn't even 24 hours."