Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 14, 2015

Ron Johnson May Sue Over Obamacare Ruling for Congressional Staff

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said Thursday he is laying groundwork for a court challenge to an Office of Personnel Management decision that will permit congressional staffers to continue receiving employer contributions for their health care.

The OPM’s August ruling was intended to remedy a drafting error in the 2010 health care law that would require all Congressional staffers to pay for the full cost of their insurance without employer contributions.

Johnson, who last week filed a formal comment to OPM urging the agency reconsider its rule, said he and his staff did so in order to create a legal case against the administration.

“I really do believe that it was the pretty clear intent of the people who voted for Obamacare that members of Congress and their staffs should not be able to maintain their … insurance through the Federal Employee Health Benefits plan, and they also made it pretty clear through multiple votes that they didn’t think the federal government ought to make contributions into the exchanges where they had to get it,” Johnson said.

“I can’t tell you how OPM’s really going to conduct themselves … but you know, I did put in a comment into OPM, and the purpose behind that is I don’t think they’re going to follow… my advice, but I just wanted to make sure I certainly did everything I could do … through the normal channels so that I could then do a court challenge,” Johnson continued. “That helped me create standing.”

Currently, the Senate is stalled over an amendment from Republican David Vitter of Louisiana that would reverse the OPM rule. Vitter is trying to get the amendment voted on in conjunction with an energy efficiency bill.

When Johnson announced on Sept. 10 that he and several of his staffers had filed a comment to OPM, he said in a statement: “My intent is to make sure President Obama is not allowed to exceed his legal authority in implementing this law, and that members of Congress and their staffs are not shielded from the harmful effects of this law that every other American will experience.”

On Thursday, when explaining his frustration, Johnson said: “If Congress doesn’t like that, they should change the law.”

The open secret of the Vitter amendment fight is that few members of either party really want to vote on it. Even most Republicans concede that the original intent of the provision at hand was not to make staffers pay out of pocket completely for their health coverage, just to force them into exchanges set up by the law for the uninsured or self-insured. Moreover, some Republicans expressed frustration that the multiple Obamacare fights in Congress right now are detracting from the larger spending level debate they could be having with Democrats instead.

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

Comments (55)

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  1. Billybob

    Sept. 19, 2013
    9:43 p.m.

    I normally do not hold politicians in high regard, but I am proud Senator Johnson represents me.

  2. MrBeale

    Sept. 19, 2013
    10:14 p.m.

    Wisconsin dropped the ball in 2010 by electing this turd – may they atone for their mistake in 2016.

    • Linda Heinkel

      Sept. 19, 2013
      11:03 p.m.

      Someone looking out for their constituents is the mark of an honorable man. No mistake here.

      • MrBeale

        Sept. 20, 2013
        6:38 a.m.

        Ron Johnson is a disciple of Ayn Rand who is looking out only for the top 1% of his constituents.

        • outonalimn

          Sept. 20, 2013
          5:36 p.m.

          You Democrats need to start doing your share of the work and paying your equal share of the taxes. A responsible Citizen should pay $13,000 in taxes ($26,000 per couple) to match what Congress is spending annually per eligible voter — but instead, societal parasites and Democrats [forgive the redundancy] are too busy spitefully whining about “fairness” to man up and vote for something other than bread and circuses.

          • MrBeale

            Sept. 20, 2013
            6:11 p.m.

            Just keep up with that moocher rhetoric – it’s working so well for you guys!

          • outonalimn

            Sept. 22, 2013
            2:07 p.m.

            Who’s paying YOUR share Mr. Beale? What are you doing wrong in your life that you aren’t able to pay the average annual cost of the United States Citizen? Why do you think that someone else should be paying your share? Is it spite? Do you believe it’s actually okay to steal from others? Or are you simply overwhelmed by the incredibly massive size of the US government?

        • ET

          Sept. 20, 2013
          8:51 p.m.

          The Democrats are the ones who sought the carve out for themselves and their staffers. If they were in private industry (where most would be unemployable) and making $100,000 to $200,000+ annually, rather than subsidize their healthcare insurance to the tune of $12,000 to $15,000 annually, their employers would kick them out of the company plan and GLADLY pay the $800 fine. Why shouldn’t that apply in the public sector? If the politicians don’t like it, then change the law or repeal it. Don’t tell me about any “brain drain”…D.C. needs a massive high colonic followed by a nuclear toilet flush.

          • MrBeale

            Sept. 20, 2013
            9:02 p.m.

            Many employers are sticking with the current health plans. Try again.

      • ED

        Oct. 4, 2013
        5:22 p.m.

        He is suing to protect his staffers….not his constituents

  3. NepotismIsDomesticTerrorism

    Sept. 20, 2013
    12:31 p.m.

    Ronny Vows to Shove It Up The Back Door of His Own Staffers

    That’s the Tea Party for you. More for me and none for you.

    • August

      Sept. 20, 2013
      8:21 p.m.

      When he’s looking past the individuals on his staff and at the bigger picture of what’s right for the country I give him high marks for his work.

      • NepotismIsDomesticTerrorism

        Sept. 20, 2013
        8:24 p.m.

        Tea Party Johnson’s Me First Mentality should go a long, long way to breeding loyalty among the Ayn Rand acolytes on his staff.

        • noseitall

          Sept. 21, 2013
          2:05 a.m.


          I love the reverse logic of Democrats.

          The Republican senator says that Congress and their staffs should be treated no better than anyone else, and this guy turns it into an act of selfishness.

          This is the kind of contortions Dumbs must go through to gin up their low-information base voters.


  4. impeachhobama

    Sept. 21, 2013
    1:46 a.m.

    WE MUST EVICT any one of the bums who think they are above the people and deserve special treatment with Obamacare. The political elite have shown their colors and, its the color of the enemy. OBAMACARE is based on the premise of redistribution of wealth. Its pure Marxist evil, and Obama is the leader. Get it you bozos who voted for Obama. Everything the scumbag has done, from his first day in a public office to today is to destroy the founding principles of our nation, its mores. its religous standards. its laws, its military, its education systems, and its medical standards. Obama has violated the Constitution over and over again, and continues to do so as the Congress has become Obamas lapdog, pretending to oppose him, while accepting his gifts and money, and voting in support of his desires. We are at war against the evil principles of Obama, yet the opposition forces are asleep, lazy, inept, and incompetent. Yes, there are a few Warriers in the opposition, but not enough. Its going to take more than a Ted Cruz and a Mike Lee to defeat the Obama Marxists.

    • PikeRver

      Sept. 21, 2013
      12:29 p.m.

      Obamacare was based on Romneycare.

      • giatny

        Sept. 22, 2013
        3:13 p.m.

        There was a MAJOR difference, Romney didn’t upend the
        entire health care system to expand coverage to the 10%
        who didn’t have insurance. In MA if you liked your insurance
        and doctor, you really could keep them. In addition, what
        works in a single state is not a template for the entire

        • PikeRver

          Sept. 30, 2013
          7:11 p.m.

          Is it not the Republican way to do for yourself?? Have health ins and don’t have me paying higher premiums because you don;t have any.

    • iamhungry

      Sept. 21, 2013
      3:53 p.m.

      >OBAMACARE is based on the premise of redistribution of wealth.

      It’s actually based on the premise that everyone should pay for their own healthcare.

    • ED

      Oct. 4, 2013
      5:19 p.m.

      I’m so sorry for you. I hope one day you will realize how ignorant you are. Could you actually tell me ONE concrete thing that he has done to “destroy the founding principles of our nation”? Obamacare mandates that everyone pay their fair share, instead of taxpayers fronting the bill for the uninsured who still get seen by doctors and can’t pay. I don’t even think you know what Marxist ideals even are, you just hear the terminology and piggy back off of it to try to get a point across that has no real truth to it. Last time I checked, since Obama took office the economy is better, housing market is up, we got Bin Laden, gun regulations have weakened, and now people are being made accountable for paying for their healthcare. Shoot, Obama shounds more like an old-school republican to me

  5. outonalimn

    Sept. 22, 2013
    2:04 p.m.

    There shouldn’t be ANY tax other than a head tax. Your EQUAL share for an EQUAL citizen. No tax forms. Just a bill for your share of what Congress spent the year before divided by the number of vote-eligible US Citizens. Your paid-in-full IRS receipt is your voter ID. Your wife needs her own as well as any 18-year old progeny living at home. The silliness of Congress spending $13,000 per Citizen will disappear in ONE election cycle. Liberals should be happy with this because we will never decide to get into a war that we aren’t ALL willing to pay for. Likewise, no one is likely to vote to pay for their neighbors’ birth control anymore either. No more spite; no more expecting everyone else to pay your Citizen’s share.

  6. giatny

    Sept. 22, 2013
    3:17 p.m.

    How refreshing that someone has the integrity to expose the self-dealing
    of Congress. ACA requires that they get insurance through the exchanges
    on the same terms as everyone else. Exempting themselves from the income-capped level of subsidies is disgraceful. What about the other 8 million
    who will be dumped into the exchanges and earn too much any subsidy?

  7. Defend Liberty

    Sept. 22, 2013
    3:22 p.m.

    Today’s liberalism is an ever-shifting mirage of illusions conjured up to exploit the sympathies of the gullible and the ignorant.

  8. Igor Shafarevich

    Sept. 22, 2013
    11:26 p.m.

    Clearly, Hussien Obama is a liar, a fraud, and a fool.

  9. Igor Shafarevich

    Sept. 22, 2013
    11:57 p.m.

    That truth of the matter is that Hussein Obama is a liar, a fraud, and a fool.

  10. Montesquieu

    Sept. 24, 2013
    4:15 a.m.

    Hussein Obama’s delusions are dangerous.

  11. Mystermee

    Sept. 24, 2013
    1:08 p.m.

    As long as “insurance corporations” are allowed to be the gate keepers to “healthcare”, the American people will be forced to waste money.
    Not one insurance corp CEO was present during anyone of my 4 spine surgeries…..

    So why exactly are the American people ready and willing to fund an entity with trillions of dollars for services THEY DO NOT PROVIDE, NEVER HAVE PROVIDED, and NEVER WILL PROVIDE????

    Both Republican and Democrat leaders are serving the insurance corporations that DO NOT PROVIDE healthcare….

    And the American people? Divided and conquered by corporate owned and controlled red and blue government. They will pay insurance corp’s trillions and trillions of dollars.

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