March 23, 2010
Senior Congressional Staff Exempted from ObamaCare
From the New Ledger blog comes news reported by Ben Domenech of an interesting item in the newly passed ObamaCare legislation now being scrutinized in detail:
One such surprise is found on page 158 of the legislation, which appears to create a carveout for senior staff members in the leadership offices and on congressional committees, essentially exempting those senior Democrat staffers who wrote the bill from being forced to purchase health care plans in the same way as other Americans.
Sweet, huh? Domenech explains that, during passage of the legislation, controversy arose as to whether Congress would commit to placing themselves under the same health care exchanges being mandated for average citizens. To that end, the words were added to the legislation mandating that each Member of Congress and the Member's congressional staff would have health plans created under the Healthcare Act.
Sounds great until you dig into those pesky details -- such as the definition of "congressional staff" (emphasis added):
(ii) DEFINITIONS- In this section:(I) MEMBER OF CONGRESS- The term ‘Member of Congress' means any member of the House of Representatives or the Senate.(II) CONGRESSIONAL STAFF- The term ‘congressional staff' means all full-time and part-time employees employed by the official office of a Member of Congress, whether in Washington, DC or outside of Washington, DC.
Thus, by this definition, the legislation applies only to a Member of Congress and the member's personal office staff. It does not apply to the Democrat staffers employed by the various Congressional committees or the Congressional leadership. Domenech confirms:
According to the Congressional Research Service, this definition of staff will only apply to those staffers employed within a member's "personal office" - meaning that it will absolutely not apply to committee staff members, and may not apply to leadership staff.
Thus, the very people tasked to write the healthcare legislation appear to have cleverly exempted themselves from the mandated coverage for everyone else. Domenech points out that Senator Chuck Grassley (R, IA) pointed out this major loophole but "was rebuffed" by the Democrat majority.
On March 9, Nancy Pelosi told us that Congress must "pass the bill so you can find out what's in it..." How true. How true.