On Tuesday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) indicated on the floor of the Senate he was “open to having a vote” on Senator David Vitter’s (R-LA) amendment to eliminate the Obamacare exemption for members of Congress, according to a Breitbart source on Capitol Hill. Today, however, he and his Democratic colleagues are singing a different tune, and the lyrics come straight from that timeless phrase used by hypocrites throughout American history: “What’s good for thee is not good for me.”
In early September, Reid defended the exemption to Obamacare granted to members of Congress and their staffers by the Office of Personnel and Management on August 7. As Heritage’s The Foundry pointed out, “there is no statutory authority, either in Obamacare or in Title V of the U.S Code, for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to make government insurance contributions on behalf of federal employees to any plan other than an FEHBP plan.”
But when Vitter introduced his No Washington Exemption from Obamacare Amendment on September 12, Reid was forced to make a decision on whether it should be brought to a vote. As Majority Leader of the Senate, Reid exercises power by determining what bills will come to a vote in committees and before the full Senate.
Reid has indicated from the outset that he opposes Vitter’s amendment, but he has attempted to maintain the public fiction that the amendment would receive the same treatment as any amendment proposed by any member of the Senate.
Despite significant evidence to the contrary, Reid continues to insist that the Congressional exemption authorized by the Office of Personnel Management is contained within the law. But on Tuesday, Vitter called the Congressional Obamacare exemption “flat out against the law,” and that exposure of Reid’s blatant hypocrisy may have been too much for the Majority Leader to take.
When Senate Democrats subsequently prevented Vitter’s amendment from coming to a vote, Vitter took to the floor of the Senate and delivered a statement that called Reid out on his hypocrisy. “After freaking out last Thursday with threats and bribery, this week Harry Reid said he’s fine with an up-or-down vote on my No Washington Exemption from Obamacare Amendment. I guess that was just a weak attempt at disguising his fear about losing his special exemption,” he said.
According to a statement issued by his office on Thursday, “Vitter’s amendment would reverse and clarify the decision by the Office of Personnel and Management (OPM) on Obamacare. The legislation will require that all Members of Congress, the President, Vice President, and all political appointees in the Administration must purchase their health insurance on the Obamacare Exchange without the help of taxpayer-funded subsidies. Congressional staff would be prohibited from receiving any contribution greater than what they would receive if they were not employed by a congressional office.”
Tea party stalwart Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) are co-sponsors of the Vitter amendment, along with Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY), Dean Heller (R-V), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Jim Inhofe (R-OK).