WASHINGTON — What is good for the goose should be good enough for the gander, a group of Republican lawmakers argued Tuesday, discussing legislation to reverse the Office of Personnel Management’s Obamacare decision.
“As ordinary Americans deal with the costs, the burdens, and dislocation of Obamacare everyday, every powerful group in the country seems to get an exemption, and the latest is Washington, D.C.” Louisiana Sen. David Vitter said. “And we find that the most outrageous and the most offensive.”
In early August, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a decision allowing members of Congress and their staff to retain their generous government contributions for health insurance when Congress enters the Obamacare exchanges.
According to Vitter — who was joined at a Tuesday presser by Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi, Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton, Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis, and Rep. Dennis Ross— OPM’s rule took “all of the sting of Obamacare away from members of Congress and their staff.”
Their legislation would repeal the OPM’s decision and specify that all members of Congress, the president, vice president and political appointees have to purchase health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges without the assistance of subsidies. It further would prevent all congressional staff from receiving any contribution to their health plans greater than what they could receive if they were not employed by Congress.
Enzi noted that the legislation takes the requirement that Washington live under the law it created by requiring the president and his staff to purchase insurance on the exchanges without government contributions.
“Now you would think that if the bill was named after you, you would want to be under it,” Enzi said. “So we are hoping the president will take that approach with he and his staff and help us to get this passed. So that Congress and the administration have to live under whatever he American people have to live under.”
Enzi said that he and his colleagues plan to attempt to attach the bill as an amendment to any bill.
Republican House members introduced the companion bill Tuesday and plan to offer it as an amendment to the House Continuing Resolution.
“This OPM rule was issued right as Congress was leaving for August, Americans were busy doing all sorts of things over the summer, and it basically represented a bailout for the political class.” DeSantis said, adding that it was not authorized by statute and that it was another example of “executive overreach.”
Ross called OPM’s decision appalling and an example “of this imperial presidency,” and reiterated that what Congress passes it should be subject to.
The OPM “fix” came due to fears about a potential loss of talent staff in Congress due to concerns about increased health care costs, Vitter Tuesday argued that those fears have been “wildly overstated.”