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GOP: Staffers Should Use Obamacare

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

All Senate GOP staffers should get their health benefits through District of Columbia's Obamacare exchange and not use a special carveout for committee and leadership staff, a resolution adopted by the Senate Republican Conference Wednesday said.  

The resolution from Sen. David Vitter was adopted by voice vote, according to Republican aides.  

"Republican senators made a strong, principled statement today in passing my resolution. Washington should have to live under Obamacare just like everybody else until we repeal it. And we won't be complicit in Obama's illegal rule designed to protect Washington insiders," Vitter said in a statement. The Louisiana Republican pushed the internal non-binding rules proposal calling on the conference to eschew a carveout that allows leadership and committee offices to have staffers covered through the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan. Some offices that have been eligible to keep FEHBP benefits have already been using the small business exchange run by the local government.  

The resolution says members should designate all employees as "official" for the purposes of determining health care benefits.

The Republican Conference calls upon the Senate Democrats to adopt a policy that all Democrat members shall designate all staff they employ as official for purposes of healthcare when filling out the Annual Designation of 'Official Office' staff or otherwise complying with the section 1312 of the Affordable Care Act regardless of whether they work in the member’s personal office, committee office, leadership office, the cloakroom or any other office.
The resolution makes a challenge to the Democrats to do likewise. The conference resolution is separate from Vitter's longstanding effort to stop the payment of employer contributions to purchase health insurance plans.  

That issue emerged again this week, with Vitter placing a hold on a scaled-back version of bipartisan energy efficiency legislation championed by New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen and Ohio Republican Rob Portman. Vitter has sought a floor vote on that legislative amendment multiple times, including when Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., sought to move a larger version of the Shaheen-Portman legislation across the Senate floor.  

"Last year Majority Leader Harry Reid promised that we’d vote on my legislation to end the Washington exemption from Obamacare as part of this bill. I'm holding Reid to that promise," Vitter said in a statement Tuesday.  

Lauren Gardner contributed to this report. The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.