Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
May 24, 2015

Democrats Divulge Emails With Boehner Staff as Shutdown Fight Gets Personal (Updated)

Sen. Harry Reid's office is considering leaking emails between his chief of staff, David Krone (above), and Speaker John Boehner's chief. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Reid’s office is considering leaking emails between his chief of staff, David Krone, above, and Boehner’s chief. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:30 a.m. | Senate Democrats are considering leaking a series of emails between the chiefs of staff of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker John A. Boehner regarding employer contributions to congressional staff health care plans, multiple top-level sources said late Monday.

Senate Democratic chiefs of staff discussed the emails between Reid chief David Krone and Boehner chief Mike Sommers at a recent meeting, according to a source with direct knowledge of the meeting.

Leaking the emails would be unusual, given the taboo over disclosing personal communications between top staffers. But the missives also would reveal Boehner’s position on employer subsidies for congressional staff. Democrats believe the Ohio Republican’s decision to attach an amendment to revoke those contributions to the most recent House continuing resolution was a direct shot at vulnerable Senate Democrats up in 2014 and would like to highlight the contradiction between Boehner’s public and private stances on the issue.

Senate Democrats believe that Republican efforts to force a vote on what some in the GOP have characterized as a congressional “exemption” are designed to politically corner Democrats like Kay Hagan of North Carolina or Mark Pryor in Arkansas, who represent more conservative states. Democrats contend that Republicans just want to campaign on the issue, while hoping the amendment will not pass.

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., described the emails to lobbyists at a dinner on Capitol Hill on Monday night, telling those present that they would be leaked within a day, according to someone who attended the event. When asked if he talked about leaking the emails at dinner, Durbin did not deny the conversation: “I have heard about [the emails] but I have not seen any. … All I’ll say is that I’ve heard there are emails but I have not seen them.”

An aide to Boehner provided a statement about the correspondence late Monday night.

“Any emails from Mr. Sommers will reflect the Speaker’s position: he voted against Obamacare, and he wants to repeal Obamacare. If the Senate Democrats and the White House want to make a ‘fix’ to the law, it would be their fix. The Speaker’s ‘fix’ is repeal,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said. “This is just a desperate act by Harry Reid’s staff to protect their own subsidy.”

Reid’s spokesman declined to comment.

Outside the general assumption that communications between leaders and their staff are private, any decision by Reid to disclose the emails between his chief and Boehner’s likely would destroy future efforts by the two chiefs to correspond about future policy matters — such as the looming fight over raising the debt limit, which economists have described as potentially more damaging to the economy that the current government shutdown.

Updated 11:30 a.m.

Reid’s office decided Tuesday morning to release the documents to Politico.

The emails, which were not provided to CQ Roll Call, apparently reveal that Boehner’s staff and Reid’s staff participated in routine coordination between two leaders of Congress to avoid having congressional staff lose their health care benefits.

“During a five-month period stretching from February to July, Boehner and his aides sought along with Reid’s office to solve what had become a big headache for both of them,” Politico writes. “They drafted and reviewed a possible legislative fix, as well as continued to push for an administrative one from the Office of Personnel Management.”

It bears repeating again that the original intent of the provision that is causing leaders so much trouble was merely to force Congressional staff on to Obamacare exchanges, not to have those employees get no employer contribution toward their care.

  • John Powers

    Good Lord, this is the lead story of the day on Roll Call? Harry Reid/The Lord High Executioner has a Little List? Who cares?

    • ericdondero

      You are so right John. This was an embarrassing piece from Roll Call. Shows for all to see their extreme Democrat-bias. Daily Kos, Roll Call, any difference?

      • Layla

        Absolutely none.

    • jaimo

      You mean the pederast?

  • Brenda

    And as usual this will be a one sided show and tell. If the republicans had merely suggested this the dems would be crying foul from the highest roof in DC.

  • Frank W Brown

    Let the FUN begin, it’s almost funny (not) how these IDIOTS play their games! Shut the whole damn thing down and start over!

    • Maria Andropelii

      Yes, you got a President you don’t like so you want the entire US fed. government to be destroyed. Childish doesn’t even begin to describe people with your attitude.

  • ericdondero

    So, then Roll Call. With the Update! this is all much ado about nothing. Wow, you Dems will try anything to gain an edge. All about getting that scary headline to bash Republicans ‘eh?

  • therightmano

    Democrats do not need to leak any emails. We conservatives already KNOW that both party establishments have no interest in reducing the size of government. They also specialize in passing laws that they exempt themselves from.

    Why do you think Ted Cruz faced the greatest opposition from his own party (Senate GOP).

    Conservatives know all this. We are waiting for liberals to wise up to this and know that the fight is not Dem vs. GOP but we the people vs. the Elites in DC.

    • SamR

      I agree its the people vs. the elites in DC, but the elites in DC share your obsession with the size of government. When I think elites, I think the leaders of both parties, and the pundits at the papers and the networks, and the CEOs of the bailed-out companies, all of whom moan endlessly about the size of government.

      I just want the government to work as well as possible, and I think most regular people do as well. Its not about aesthetics. I’d rather live in Denmark than Somalia, personally, but if you want small government it doesn’t get any smaller than Somalia.

    • donna

      Wrong – it is a fight of the Republicans against everyone who isn’t a rich, white old male. When the Republicans finally grow up and realize that there aren’t enough rich, white, old males to keep them in office, we’ll finally get some sanity from that side of the House. So far, though, they have chosen to hide their heads (and their very tiny brains) in the sand.

      • fee_1776

        Whites divide themselves along age, gender, and etc. If they united they would represent 65 percent of US. Blacks vote 90 percent one way, Jews and other colors vote 70 percent one way. When whites finally realize they are paying too much and kept as boogie men for PC and AA forever, they will wise up and wake up like a sleeping giant. It will interesting to see how the Dems will deal with the coming American Jewish vs American Arab/Muslim conflict and the conflict between Hispanic immigrants and Blacks. White liberals were clever to hobble together a minority white liberal lead coalition with blacks/Hispanics/Asians/Jews. It is still a coalition built on shifting sands.

    • Mojojojo

      Neither do conservatives—the last conservative president to lower the deficit was during the Korean War ROFL.

      • 1mrt1

        MOJO Dumb!

    • Maria Andropelii

      That’s really the problem with “the right” in the USA. You “know”. Fox news tells you. Hatriot radio tells you. So you “know” it all. Then no one can penetrate the cement of installed misinformation. You are, in short. tools.

    • DemInExile

      You don’t represent “we the people” and you are not a conservative. Anybody who would shut down the government and default on the debt is an anarchist. Anybody who would use these threats to achieve political aims is an extortionist. And anybody who would so glibly risk hurting millions of Americans to “fight the elites” is cruel.

      If you want to fight elites in Washington, do so by supporting progressives such as Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown – they fight for “we the people” and stand up to the corporate elite. Support Unions that represent working class Americans. But don’t support a bunch of self promoting Nihilists. That isn’t conservative, that’s just plain crazy.

  • MNHawk

    Why doesn’t a Democrat piece of cowardly garbage just release them above the board, on record?

  • mary kile

    Let the head rolls, and then maybe the idiots in congress (both parties) will do something. No exceptions. Just as well there should be no exceptions for Healthcare. If Obamacare is good enough for the people, then it should be good enough for everyone, including congress and federal employees.

  • davesnothere

    Let me get this straight. Dems went through with an unprecedented release of private communications to try to show that Reps are doing what every single Congressperson in the history of the Republic has done – play politics with political issues – and still Roll Call believes that this somehow reflects poorly on Reps? I’d say that the way a Beltway Brain works is mystifying, but that unfairly gives “mystification” a bad name.

  • AD_Rtr_OS

    Do not engage in any tactic against your opponent that you would scream about if it was used against yourself…..but that means nothing to the Left, so this fight will become personal, and dirty.
    When that first “gas attack” is initiated, all bets are off and a lot of “dirty linen” will be exposed, on all sides.

    • Tom B

      Don’t engage,The liberals win because they constantly engage along with the press!Thats why Mitt the twit never had a chance!

      • Maria Andropelii

        You mean the guy that posed as a state trooper and pulled over people on the road – women in particular – and molested them? That Mitt? rotflmao…..

  • Icob

    When will Republicans learn that there is no end that scum like Reid, Durbin, Schumer et al won’t go to get their way. Nothing is sacred, the truth is just a word… anyone remember Harry Reid saying he knew that Mitt Romney hadn’t paid any taxes ever? Time to play hard ball – record all conversations and release anything that will damage Democrats. No more nice play – hard ball. We’re going to take Barry’s advice – bring a gun to a knife fight.

  • OldSarg

    Boehner is demostrating EXACTLY why the membership of the House cannot trust his leadership. If he was foolish enough to trust Reid he qualifies as an idiot and should be replaced.

    • SamR

      Its a good point. Hopefully Pete King will decide he wants to be Speaker, and bring along 17 other Republicans who are sick of the the insanity. I bet the Dems would fall all over themselves to form a “Unity Party” with the few remaining Republican moderates.

      It would also have the additional benefit of actually giving the American people the House of Representatives they voted for, since Democratic candidates for the House received about 1,000,000 more votes than GOP candidates for the House (but the GOP has gotten really good at gerrymandering so managed to keep the House by a decent margin despite losing the overall vote by so much).

      • jaimo

        They learned gerrymandering from the morons in the democratic party. Eventually the republicans learn stuff, it apparently takes a little longer to resign themselves to the fact that they have to become bottom feeders to appeal to the democrat base.

      • Tom B

        Peter King????Give me a break,He’s a snotty nose liberal trying to be a republican.

    • wildrover4

      I have to say that proposing the recent bill was stupid if he knew these emails were out there. I’ve been largely sympathetic to Boehner as he is really presiding over two or three caucuses masquerading as one. But he had to know the risk associated with publicly demanding the repeal of the very provision his staff insisted be put into legislation. We shall see what the fallout is. If he is removed and replaced with a “real conservative,” I think the Republicans might have a difficult time holding their caucus together.

      • Layla

        Both sides are in for a surprise in 2014, courtesy of the American people who are fed up with Congress not living under the same laws they impose upon others.

    • Tom B

      Even pimps in vegas don’t trust harry.He’s no good on his promises.

  • ptm

    Pass a law amending Obamacare that allows for “employer” paid subsidy for Congressional staff etc, don’t do it Extra Legal.

  • vmayer2244

    So? Boehner doesn’t want anyone on Obamacare. Reid’s the hypocrite.

  • Tama

    So Obamacare is so bad… congress doesn’t want this

  • rbeccah

    Primary every single one who comes up for primary, sweep Congress clean.

    • tateofpa

      and the senate!

    • Just Saying

      Here, here!

    • Andrew Joseph

      We already had 3 throw the bums out elections in a row (2006, 2008, 2010). Now we have a lot of newer shittier bums.

  • frankjohnson221

    So??? At least he sic the IRS on the demos.

  • tateofpa

    Yep leak them email and see how that will help communications between the dems and repubs. Then they will complain about the lack of communications.

    • jaimo

      While we’re at it can we go about releasing some of the Bamster’s school records and his student loan information, or any info that he was using a foreign student status in college? Pretty please.

  • mike077

    As a Republican, I hope they do it. If Boehner is being duplicitous, then he needs to be exposed, removed, and defeated. It is linguini-spined Beltway Republicans like Boehner that are destroying the GOP.

  • jaimo

    I’d like to know what these pigs who call themselves democrats had on Judge Roberts to make him change his majority opinion to support ACA? I wouldn’t put it past this scum of the earth to do something like that.

    • Just Saying

      “Pigs” and “Scum”- really perceptive statements that clearly help the situation. Oh wait, they don’t. The only thing that is going to make our country better is if we stop looking across the aisle and thinking this person wants to destroy my country; and start saying, ok, they love OUR country and want the best for it but we have totally different ideas of how to do that.

    • wildrover4

      Actually, the reporting indicated that Roberts didn’t switch until Kennedy made it clear that he wouldn’t allow the law to stay in effect without the individual mandate and that Roberts didn’t think striking down the entire law was justified.

      • Layla

        I suppose the court is exempt from this law?

        • Tom B

          The courts have a special healthcare plan because they seem to think they are living in 1653 and they are royalty and carry magical powers over their subjects.

  • giatny

    Of course the Dems don’t want to vote on their illegal
    exemption. Tough, the GOP should make it a separate
    bill and force attention to the self dealing.

    • SamR

      Ah, the “I didn’t read the article” comment. Well played.

    • dporteraustin

      The “illegal exemption” you are talking about is the Check Grassley Amendment that required Congress and their staff to use Obamacare. Grassley is a republican. The “illegal exemption” you are talking about was put forth by republicans, not dems.

  • ElmerEvans


    If they do this, then go nuclear.

    • loretta

      You mean if they expose the duplicity of Boehner and the tea tantrum caucus? If they expose emails showing Boehner fighting tooth and nail to keep his staff comfortable and secure in THEIR taxpayer-funded healthcare benefits?
      Why wait? Why not take Boehner to task NOW?

  • Dan

    Aw democrats don’t want to vote on their own special privileges. Remember America they will only show how extreme they are until after they sucker you into voting for them. #dont be fooled

  • Patrick Pine

    Actually the Congress is the only large employer that has to put its employees on an exchange plan because the section of the law that was put in by Sen Grassley. Other large employers can provide a plan and pay all or the lion’s share of the cost even with Obamacare. All other federal employees will remain on the traditional federal plan and continue to have the major share paid by the employer. So actually Congressional staff are being treated differently than other federal employees and most large employers, public, private and not for profit. Sen. Cruz is getting a very valuable insurance plan paid 100% by his wife’s employer, Goldman Sachs so he is already being treated differently than nearly all of us, including nearly all Congressional staff. Those in Congress older than 65 are eligible for Medicare and the federal retiree health plan – again paid for mostly by the employer.
    So Congressional staff are not being exempted from something that many of us are subject to – this is another myth that has been completely mischaracterized for the sake of political posturing and has been very poorly covered by much of the media.

    • Tom B

      All people including all government employees should have the exact same obamacare plan including obama.We don’t have royalty in America sweetie.

      • Patrick Pine

        If you want everybody on the same plan that would be universal health care…which was supported by many Democrats and zero Republicans…

  • Tom B

    Everyone loves Obamacare,that why the government made itself exempt.

  • Tom B

    Charles Ponzi sure is laughing in his grave after the government stole his ideas.

  • stillhavehope

    This is so far from news. The battle line has already been established and Boehner has long been considered Benedict Arnold. We need to keep him where he is for now until we are done with him. Always keep your enemy’s close. His inability to be clever and strong will work for the true conservatives who are pulling the strings at this point.

  • ldrussell

    We are not only fighting the political elite in DC we are also fighting the corp. world that is sucking hind tite of the government sowe.

  • !eyedman

    The problem is Boehner is afraid to call for a up/ down vote to fund the economy. If he did the government could open today. Negotiate? How do you negotiate with someone who is holding a gun to your head? The GOP refused for months to call a budget committee to negotiate budget issues, but now they want to talk after they have shutdown the government? The GOP’s stated goal is to get rid of Obamacare but shutting down government will not end Obamacare. Obamacare is law and has been upheld by the Supreme Court, and is moving forward and is already funded. The GOP can’t win elections or win simple majorities , so they have resorted to political extortion: do what we want or we will destroy the American way of life for all of us…My hate for the GOP grows every day, as they threaten my life and everything I and my children have worked all our lives…

    • Kage

      Didn’t the House send numerous bills to the Senate where Harry Reid stated that he was unwilling to negotiate? The administration delayed the employer mandate. The individual mandate needs to be delayed as well.

    • giatny

      No question the GOP has an unbroken string of stupidity, but your
      freedom and future have been destroyed by Obama’s unprecedented spending and police state tactics.

  • Gyst53

    Cut, Cap and Balance are still possibilities….

    • Charles Wolf

      Be honest.
      Don’t you really mean Delay, Defund & Destroy?

  • Mondovibe

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