The Senate overwhelmingly passed a largely symbolic resolution calling for repeal of a 2.3 percent tax on medical device companies on Thursday, as more than 30 Democrats joined Republicans in approving it.
The tax helps to fund President Barack Obama's 2010 healthcare law. It applies to a range of medical products - from bedpans to expensive heart devices - many manufactured in the home states of the senators backing the repeal.
The Senate voted 79-20 to call for repeal of the tax, but the resolution is non-binding and will not change the levy. The symbolic measure will be attached to a non-binding budget measure drafted by Senate Democrats that is expected to pass on Friday.
Full repeal of the tax may be difficult to achieve, given its $30 billion price tag and the opposition of key Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid.
"The industry has a fighting chance of getting the tax moderated or eliminated as part of a much larger tax reform bill, where the device levy becomes a rounding error," said Paul Heldman, a policy analyst at Potomac Research Group. "But major tax reform in this Congress is a long shot."