WASHINGTON — Sen. David Vitter sent a letter Wednesday to the Obama administration asking for email correspondences regarding the interpretation to let members of Congress and their staffs continue to receive federal employer health insurance contributions.
Vitter, R-La., is continuing to push his “no exemptions” amendment to ensure that members of Congress, rank-and-file congressional staffers, President Barack Obama and his appointees have to get their health insurance on the federal exchanges without any federal employer benefits.
Vitter contends his amendment creates fairness by forcing congressmen and staffers to get their insurance on the new exchanges without any federal government subsidies just as the “Obamacare” law intended.
Critics call it a poison pill that punishes congressional staffers with a de facto pay cut and would create a so-called “brain drain” of fewer people wanting to work on congressional staffs.
Vitter on Wednesday wrote to the White House Office of Personnel Management seeking the correspondences on the belief that the Obama administration was in deliberations with both GOP and Democratic members of Congress over the rule issued that allows the federal health insurance contributions to follow congressmen and staffers onto the health-care exchanges.
“This ‘fix’ was one of many delayed regulations, which leads me to believe that there was much debate between the White House and Congress over OPM’s authority to bend the rules and help members and congressional staff to ultimately retain their very generous taxpayer funded subsidies,” Vitter wrote. “Self-dealing special treatment to avoid the consequences of a law that Congress itself passed is precisely why the American people do not trust Washington.”
Vitter has argued the OPM rule is “unfair and illegal” in violation of the Affordable Care Act.
When asked about the Vitter amendment last week, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., took a bit of a jab. “Sen. Vitter grandstands. He does a good job of that,” she said.