Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 5, 2015

GOP Could Force Vote to Negate Obamacare Carve-Out for Unions

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Thune signed on to a letter criticizing what the GOP is calling an Obamacare “carve-out” for labor unions. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Republicans have at least one arrow in their quiver to force an uncomfortable Obamacare vote for Democrats seeking re-election in 2014.

That’s one takeaway from a new letter signed by 25 GOP senators led by John Thune of South Dakota, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. The letter sent to Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell criticized an exemption from a re-insurance fee for self-insured health plans, calling the maneuver a carve-out for labor unions that run such plans.

“We demand that the rule be immediately rescinded or we will consider using options such as the Congressional Review Act … to stop the rule from going into effect. The CRA is an important backstop against executive branch excess and overreach,” the senators wrote. “It is regulations such as this one that demonstrate why a Republican-led Congress enacted this law in 1996.”

The CRA established an expedited procedure that isn’t subject to filibuster in the Senate to overturn department and agency rules. Substantively, the CRA almost never works because even if a joint resolution of disapproval makes it through the House and the Senate, the president could still veto it.

The process under the CRA has worked only once, when a GOP-led Congress joined with President George W. Bush to nullify an Occupational Safety and Health Administration ergonomics rule made near the end of the Clinton administration.

It isn’t the first time Senate Republicans have gone down this road on health care. Sen. Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., offered a disapproval resolution back in 2010 to nullify a rule about the grandfathering of health care plans under the Affordable Care Act. Senate Democrats turned back that effort.

A CRA resolution by the GOP senators would grant special status for a simple-majority floor vote (on a motion to proceed, at least) in the middle of a contentious midterm election cycle.

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  1. Glenn Koons

    March 13, 2014
    10:24 p.m.

    Thune is correct. This is another favor like the La., Purchase and Neb. Kickback to have fave groups support lib Dems in Nove. Union leaders are betraying their groups by being props for this socialist group of Quislings.

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    There are more than 2.6 million unemployed workers without benefits since late last December. While the Republican Senate has made delay after delay, and have taken senate break, after senate break, these poor families have been left hung out to dry, without any means to live, and support their families. There is really a TRUE CRISIS here, which needs our attention and action. The Republicans must STOP holding the Extension Bill “Hostage” in the senate, and PASS the much needed bill to help these poor families in need. Many of these families have faced eviction, home foreclosures, bankruptcy, and homelessness. Lives are being ruined, along with these people’s credit rating. The Republicans should not use these families for “political Leverage”, and bargaining chips. They are using the XL Pipeline Bill in exchange for passing the extension bill. Where are their party’s so called” family values”? I will NEVER vote Republican ever again

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