The Obama administration deliberately undermined the GOP’s investigation into potentially unlawful Obamacare payments, according to a joint report released by the Republicans on the House Committee on Ways and Means and House Committee on Energy and Commerce Thursday.
The 142-page report on the investigation alleges the administration had full knowledge it could not fund its “Cost Sharing Program” (CSP). This program was put in place under the Affordable Care Act to subsidize low-income Obamacare enrollees’ out-of-pocket costs, using federal dollars, yet the administration still opted to allocate funds without Congressional approval.
The findings show the administration initially requested $3.9 billion in appropriations for CSP in 2013, which was denied. The request was later withdrawn in 2014 — roughly $7 billion has since been spent on the program.
“The administration sought to withhold information from Congress by effectively claiming the deliberative process privilege,” the report says. “That privilege does not apply in this instance.”
The IRS raised questions on the legality of the payment to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which GOP lawmakers say was not properly handled, according to the report.
“After the IRS raised these concerns to OMB, OMB permitted the IRS officials to review its memorandum at the Old Executive Office Building,” the findings read. “At this meeting, OMB officials instructed the IRS officials not to take notes or take a copy of the memorandum with them.”
GOP members on the committee slammed the Department of Treasury, the Department of Health and Human Services and OMB for their failure to comply with multiple subpoenas.
“There is the stonewalling issue and there is the actual illegality of spending money that Congress didn’t approve, there is a specific statute, a violation and a punishment,” Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “So I would say we keep our options going forward, it’s not just about this issue, it’s about any White House simply ignoring the Constitution for their pet project – and that’s got to end.”
Republicans said the agencies failed to provide any meaningful documents or — in the instance of the Department of Treasury — conduct the research necessary to provide the information requested.
Democrats dismissed the report, calling the findings “absurd” and an attack on the president’s landmark healthcare bill.
“House Republicans’ parallel ‘investigation’ into the cost-sharing reduction subsidies while suing the Administration on the very same matter made no sense from the start,” Ranking Members Sandy Levin and Frank Pallone said in a joint statement. “Clearly there is no end to the lengths Republicans will go to undermine the Affordable Care Act.”
“The next step is to continue to demand the documents that have been subpoenaed from all of the agencies, and in my view we are not going to stop until we get that information – the request is very reasonable, we have given them plenty of time to comply,” Brady told TheDCNF. “I think the White House is just hoping to run out the clock on this administration, but that’s not going to happen.”
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