Last year, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) attempted to correct clever legislative language on page 158 of the health care bill which carves out an exemption for certain members of staff, particularly those senior staffers who played a key role in crafting the legislation. The Congressional Research Service confirms that the definition in the bill detailing what Congressional employees would be required to participate (including House Representatives) only applies to staffers working for “the office of a Member of Congress,” in other words their “personal office” which does not include, and hence, would not apply to committee staff and probably not to leadership staff either. A press release from Grassley’s office explains,
In September, a Grassley amendment adopted by the Senate Finance Committee established the requirement for all congressional staff, along with members of Congress. However, the Reid amendment brought to the floor modified the Grassley language in a way that exempts the staff of congressional leaders and committees.
Grassley will be renewing his efforts to close this loophole with an amendment during the Senate debate of the reconciliation bill. Senator Grassley also cites that the bill will not apply to President Obama nor his closest advisors and that he will pursue this measure as well. Via a recent press release:
“It’s pretty unbelieveable that the President and his closest advisors remain untouched by the reforms they pushed for the rest of the country. In other words, President Obama’s health care reform won’t apply to President Obama,” Grassley said. “Last December, the effort to apply any new law to administration political leaders was rejected by the Senate Majority Leader. But there’s no justification for the double standard, and I’ll continue to work to establish fairness.”
Nichole Hungerford is Social Media Director and Contributor to Smart Girl Nation. She is the purveyor of “Obama Porn: Arguably the Two Most Googled Words on the Internet” and tweets @ObamaPorn.