Passing the Johanns language as a stand-alone bill would be the cleanest option, since the House approved a similar stand-alone bill on March 3. But as of Monday, the Johanns language was listed as an amendment to the small business bill, and attaching it to that bill would complicate 1099 repeal, since it's not clear the House could approve a similar bill.
Another complication is that Landrieu said Sen. Robert MenendezRobert MenendezSenate confirms Obama's long-stalled ambassador to Mexico Democrats block energy spending bill over Iran amendment Senate close to voting on Mexico ambassador MORE (D-NJ) is expected to offer a "perfecting amendment" to the Johanns bill. This change would make it different from the House bill, H.R. 4, and again would complicate the road to final passage, regardless of whether it gets approved as an amendment or a stand-alone bill.
The Menendez amendment would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to study the way the Johanns language proposes to "pay for" the repeal of the 1099 language, and protect small businesses from higher costs if the study shows that costs would increase. The Johanns amendment and the House-passed bill would pay for repeal by increasing the amount of health insurance subsidies that could be recaptured in cases where a family's income exceed certain thresholds.
In the House debate, Democrats charged that this pay-for amounts to a tax hike on families who need help buying health insurance. Republicans argue that this is a the repeal of a health subsidy, not a tax hike, and have noted that Democrats supported a similar change in legislation late last year.
It's so far unclear whether Republicans in the House or Senate could support the Menendez language, but Johanns predicted that it would further complicate the process.
"A second degree amendment to the 1099 repeal, such as the one proposed today, would simply be another wrinkle in what should be a smooth process," said Johanns, who called on the Senate to reject the Menendez amendment. "Only in Washington do opponents of a measure supported by thousands of small businesses try to spin a straightforward, bipartisan solution into something bad for businesses."
If the Senate can pass 1099 repeal this week, it would the second time it has done so this year. In February, the Senate approved 1099 repeal language as part of the Federal Aviation Administration authorization bill, and paid for the repeal by tapping unused federal funds.
-- This post was updated at 5:53 p.m. to add the Johanns reaction to the amendment