- Obama military downsizing leaves U.S. too weak to counter global threats, panel finds
- Sen. Tom Coburn vows to slow down budget-busting bills ahead of recess
- Obama fantasizes about more executive power, signs new order on federal contractors
- Clintons call Klein, Halper, Kessler ‘a Hat Trick of despicable actors’: report
- Boehner accuses Obama of ‘legacy of lawlessness’
- Pro-marijuana group claims responsibility for Brooklyn Bridge flag swap
- Young adults shun Obamacare mostly due to cost: survey
- Stabbing attack on transgender girl, 15, was ‘bias motivated,’ police say
- LGBT adults still lean overwhelmingly toward Democratic Party
- Lawmakers rattled by Syria genocide horrors, call on Obama to act
GOP senator sues over Obamacare subsidies for Congress
Question of the Day
Sen. Ron Johnson said Monday he will ask the courts to make sure that Congress is treated the same way regular Americans are treated in the Obamacare marketplace, even if it means taking away his colleagues’ health care subsidies, because the financial aid is not in the Obamacare law they passed in 2010 and forces taxpayers to pay for part of lawmakers’ premiums.
Mr. Johnson, Wisconsin Republican, filed suit against the Office of Personnel Management, the agency that months ago said members of Congress and their staffs could keep the subsidy that paid for up to 75 percent of their premiums under the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan, even though they must obtain coverage from the Obamacare marketplace.
Mr. Johnson’s lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, says the rule forces him to engage in activity that appears to violate the law. He also said the rule alienates members of Congress from their constituents, because they might think their representatives in Washington are accepting special treatment.
Mr. Johnson’s lawsuit is the latest wrinkle in the Capitol Hill fight over a provision in the Affordable Care Act written by Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, that requires lawmakers and staff to purchase health coverage from Obamacare’s state-based marketplaces. The goal was to make lawmakers go through what many Americans are facing.
But its implementation was hard to swallow for lawmakers who feared their staff members would leave when they could no longer afford their health premiums.
Mr. Johnson said the political class in Washington was eager to comply with the Grassley provision, “until they really started thinking about what the true effect on themselves would be.”
“And of course that’s when they went running to President Obama for special treatment. And they got it,” Mr. Johnson said at the Capitol, standing beside lead attorney Rick Essenberg and former Solicitor General Paul D. Clement, who will handle possible appeals.
Mr. Johnson said the Obama administration should have come to Congress to fix the problem instead of issuing an administration rule. He did not outline a specific congressional solution but said he preferred a legislative fix.
Mr. Johnson said he will pay for the legal challenge through either his personal funds or money from his campaign committee, because the Senate ethics panel told him the latter option is OK.
Not everyone’s on board with the suit, however, including fellow Obamacare foes.
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a fellow Republican from Wisconsin, said the new lawsuit is misguided and will only hurt the Capitol Hill employees they rely on.
“Senator Johnson’s lawsuit is an unfortunate political stunt,” he said. “I am committed to repealing Obamacare, but the employer contribution he’s attacking is nothing more than a standard benefit that most private and all federal employees receive — including the President. Success in the suit will mean that Congress will lose some of its best staff and will be staffed primarily by recent college graduates who are still on their parents’ insurance.”
Lawmakers and staff are supposed to enroll in the District of Columbia’s small-business exchange, or “SHOP,” and choose from one of 112 options in the gold-tier level of health plans, although some lawmakers opted to forego subsidies and enroll in their home states.
Mr. Johnson said his family had trouble on the D.C. exchange and opted to get coverage back home in Wisconsin through the private market, foregoing a subsidy.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Young adults shun Obamacare mostly due to cost: survey
- U.S. attorney warns N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo not to interfere with anti-corruption probes
- Russians are unfazed by the West's response to Putin's actions in Ukraine: poll
- Rep. Tim Murphy: GOP knew HealthCare.gov would be an 'unmitigated disaster'
- Ohio gives Obama a thumbs down, yet Hillary Clinton tops GOP all-stars: poll
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Both parties recognize the Democrats' scam
- Inside the Ring: Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- Sarah Palin's online channel hits snag as Stephen Colbert buys similar URL
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- CIA admits improperly hacking Senate computers in search of Bush-era information
- 3 African leaders cancel trip to U.S. over Ebola outbreak; Obama still plans summit
- Colorado poll shows women tuning out Democrats' 'war on women' strategy
- Report: 40% of weapons sent to Afghanistan are unaccounted for
- House votes to sue President Obama over claims of presidential power
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world