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Rep. Dan Lungren couldn't be blamed if his chest puffed up with pride just a little when President Barack Obama gave a shout-out to a bill of his during the State of the Union last week.

The measure -- which would repeal a provision of the health care reform law that has nothing to do with health care -- drew not a ton of attention or support when Lungren first introduced it last year.

Now, it is on the front burner of the new Republican leadership in the House (given the priority designation of House Resolution 4) and it has some 260 co-sponsors, including many Democrats. It appears likely that it will be the one part of the health care law that will be repealed.

Lungren told The Bee's editorial board this afternoon that he was "surprised, but pleased" that the president gave it a thumbs up during his speech.

The provision that Lungren is targeting is intended to boost compliance with paying federal taxes by requiring businesses to report any purchases of goods or services totaling more than $600 from a single vendor during a year. The health care law counted on the provision raising $19 billion over 10 years because businesses would report more income to the tax collector to avoid penalties.

But businesses loudly complained that it would create a paperwork nightmare, particularly for struggling small companies.

The bill ran into a hurdle last year because under House rules, Lungren had to come up with either new taxes or spending cuts to offset the lost revenue. But he said that the supposed windfall was a "sham" and a "fiction" because it assumed there is widespread cheating and didn't take into account the cost of enforcement.

Lungren said under House rules this year, his bill doesn't face that requirement, though a Senate version would call on the Obama administration to identify offsetting budget cuts.

Speaking of the State of the Union, Lungren, a Republican from Gold River in his fourth term, ended up taking part in the bipartisan seating arrangement that, in the ways of Congress, was like prom night.

Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat from San Mateo, let it be known that she had invited Lungren to sit next to her. "It was hard to say no," he said. "She made the date."

There were even a few times, Lungren said, where they both stood to applaud the president. One was the paperwork bill.

Lungren also had kind words for House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, whom he unsuccessfully challenged for GOP leader two years ago after the Republican losses in the 2006 and 2008 elections.

Lungren, whom Boehner appointed as chairman of the House Administration Committee, said that by allowing Democrats to offer amendments and giving the minority party a voice in other ways, the speaker is doing his part to encourage bipartisanship.

"I'm applauding him now," Lungren said.



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