- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Republican Sen. David Vitter pressed colleagues Tuesday to back his bid to subpoena the D.C. health exchange for records that could shed light on how the city agreed to link Congress with Obamacare plans.

Mr. Vitter, a Louisianan who chairs the Senate’s small-business committee, will hold a vote Thursday on whether to force D.C. Health Link to cough up un-redacted pages from Congress‘ application to use the Obamacare exchange, or “SHOP,” that the District set up for its small businesses.

For months Mr. Vitter has tried to find out who signed the application papers at House and Senate personnel offices, although D.C. officials argue privacy laws have compelled them to black out the names.

He does not like how Congress has treated itself under the law, which required lawmakers and staff members who want insurance through their jobs to join the same health exchanges the law imposed on millions of other Americans.

In particular, he objects to Congress paying 75 percent of the premiums for lawmakers and aides — a benefit unavailable to other exchange customers.

“Thursday’s vote is an opportunity for Members of Congress to publicly stand for government transparency and accountability, taking one step closer to living under Obamacare — the same as the rest of America, not an elite ruling class,” Mr. Vitter said. “Issuing this subpoena will allow us to find out who is responsible for allowing Congress to receive a special taxpayer-funded subsidy on Obamacare, so we can fix this — and ultimately end the special exemption.”

Fellow committee Republicans have been cagey about how they plan to vote this week. With Democratic support unlikely, Mr. Vitter needs all 10 GOP members to sign off on the subpoena.

Senators may not want to torpedo Congress‘ arrangement with the exchange — many staff members rely on the employer subsidy to afford their coverage — or appear as though they are meddling in D.C. affairs.

Among committee Republicans, aides for Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Enzi of Wyoming declined to comment, saying their bosses typically do not signal how they plan to vote on matters well in advance.

Sen. James Risch, Idaho Republican, said the matter only came to his attention recently.

“I’ve got more work to do before I take a position on it,” he said Tuesday.

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