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Major Health Tax Blockers Reach Senate Floor

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(This story has been updated to reflect new developments.)

The Senate has started debating whether to let an emergency anti-government shutdown bill come up for debate on the Senate floor.

The bill, H.R. 195, includes provisions providing temporary freedom from three major Affordable Care Act tax provisions.

The Senate is streaming live video of its proceedings here.

The Shutdown

The federal government is now on track to begin a partial shutdown at midnight tonight.

The anti-shutdown bill, which is packaged as an amendment to H.R. 195, a minor Federal Register cost-reduction bill, would give the federal government permission to continue with normal operations until Feb. 16.

The bill also would:

Analysts at the Congressional Budget Office have estimated the three ACA-related provisions would reduce federal government revenue by about $29 billion over 10 years.

(Related: Shutdown Risk Spikes as Congress Faces Another December Deadline)

The federal government generates about $3.7 trillion in revenue per year and spends about $4.1 trillion.

The House

Members of the House approved the H.R. 195 anti-government-shutdown amendment by a vote of 230-197 late Thursday. Six of the 192 Democrats who voted supported the amendment, and 11 of the 235 Republicans who voted crossed party lines to oppose it.

Many Democrats say the anti-government-shutdown bill leaves out critical elements, such as funding for community health centers and relief from the usual immigration rules for people brought to the United States as children without proper documentation.

Some Republicans have also expressed skepticism about the bill.

Senate Drama

Republicans hold 51 seats in the Senate.

Under normal Senate rules, supporters of a spending bill need 60 votes to get the bill to the Senate floor without facing a filibuster, or endless round of debate.

It’s possible that Senate leaders could find a way around the 60-vote requirement, but, in this case, it’s not clear whether the anti-shutdown bill could pass by a majority vote.

Fox News is reporting that the bill appears to have support from 47 Republicans and one Democrat.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article described the proposed health insurer fee moratorium incorrectly. The fee would be suspended for one year.

—Read Cadillac Plan Tax Math May Shape ACA Attack on ThinkAdvisor.

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