They say the Office of Personnel Management, which is part of the Executive Branch, showed a “stunning disregard for the law” when it restored taxpayer-funded health care subsidies for members of Congress and their staffers.
The Affordable Care Act requires congressional employees to sign up for health care through the government-run exchanges, but the law does not provide subsidies for members of Congress and their staffs.
“Well, a lot of people did not like that, so they got the administration to essentially grant unlawful subsidies,” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) told Fox News on Tuesday. “And so we have tried to challenge that legislatively.”
The government is now asking a federal court to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). But dozens of Republicans, in a legal brief filed Tuesday, urged the court not to do that.
“And I think the point is, is we have been complaining about executive overreach in all of these different instances, as we should be,” DeSantis said.
“And, look, whatever law you pass, you have got to live under the same terms of it. There are a lot of provisions of Obamacare that harm some of my constituency, but they are not allowed to just go get a bailout from the administration like the members of Congress and the staff did in this situation.”
DeSantis said he and other lawmakers can pay their staffs more money to make up for the lack of tax-preferred health care subsidies. He said only members of Congress will be negatively affected if Johnson’s lawsuit is successful.
“I’m not opposed to there being employment contributions for people’s health care,” DeSantis said. “I just think it has got to actually be in the statute, and you can’t just go making this stuff up willy-nilly.”
DeSantis also disagreed with President Obama’s comment that the debate surrounding Obamacare is over:
“Well, I think that is wishful thinking on his part.” He noted that many of Obamacare’s “most damaging provisions,” including the employer mandate, have been suspended until after the 2014 midterm election.
Eventually, DeSantis said, “You’re going to see more people being moved to 29 hours. You’re going to see businesses not want to go above 50 employees, because of the negative effects that Obamacare will impose upon them, and that is going to create an even bigger drag on our economy.”
The legal brief filed by 38 Republican members on Tuesday says the “unlawful executive action at issue in this case is not an isolated incident. Rather, it is part of an ongoing campaign by the Executive Branch to rewrite the Affordable Care Act on a wholesale basis. If left unchecked, that campaign threatens to subvert the most basic precept of our system of government: The President of the United States is constitutionally obligated to take care that the law be faithfully executed; he does not have the power to modify or ignore laws that have been duly enacted by Congress and that he believes are constitutional…”
In his own response to the government’s motion to dismiss the case, Sen. Ron Johnson noted that he filed suit against the Office of Personnel Management on Jan. 6. 2014, because “it was the one opportunity where I believe I had standing to challenge.”
Johnson says Congress was clear in its intention: “The misnamed Affordable Care Act required Congress and its staff to get its health coverage through the exchanges and to do it without a tax-preferred employer subsidy, like anyone else who will lose employer-sponsored coverage. The administration’s rule violates this law. It is unfair to the American people and it is an offense against the rule of law.”