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Proposed 28th Amendment Would Make Congress Join Obamacare Exchanges

After "behind-closed-doors deal, announced right after Congress is safely away from the crime scene on break, was fully supported by establishment Republicans."

Bridget Johnson


August 2, 2013 - 2:46 pm

Republicans in the House and Senate are on fire over the news that the White House will exempt members of Congress and their staff from Obamacare’s exchanges.

One pair of congressmen even have a constitutional amendment that would require members to live under the same laws as every other American, though they said Thursday’s introduction coinciding with the exemption report was just good timing.

“Well, on the very day that Matt Salmon and I introduce a constitutional amendment prohibiting Congress from exempting themselves from the laws that they pass, we get word that the Obama Administration has created an administrative rule that will relieve members of Congress and their staffs from the higher health care costs that the rest of America will bear under the 2010 health care law,” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) wrote on his Facebook page.

The proposed 28th Amendment to the Constitution reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting the citizens of the United States that does not also apply to the Senators and Representatives.”

DeSantis introduced the amendment with Arizona Republican Matt Salmon, who said it’s needed to ensure that politicians live within the same parameters that they set on the American people.

“A government of the people, by the people, for the people should live under the same rules it passes for the people. It’s that simple,” said Salmon. “That is why this amendment is necessary. How can the American people trust Congress to fix a broken Washington when they don’t even live under the same rules? Washington should live by the same rules as every family and business, and I encourage all Americans to join us in moving this legislation forward.”

DeSantis said the amendment simply affirms the intent of the Founding Fathers: “members of Congress are servants of the people, not a ruling class separate and distinct from the people.”

“Congress cannot be allowed to impose burdens on the American people while relieving its own members of those burdens,” he said. “A 28th amendment is needed to hold Congress accountable and to restore principles of proper constitutional government.”

On the Senate side, David Vitter (R-La.) highlighted an amendment he introduced to the Marketplace Fairness Act in April that would have reiterated that members and their staff must enroll into the Obamacare exchanges and killed a loophole exempting the president, vice president, political appointees and some congressional staff from being forced into the exchange.

“This is exactly why America rightly hates Washington. Obamacare’s a train wreck, even for Congress,” Vitter said today. “So it gets fixed… FOR CONGRESS ONLY. What the flip about fixing it for America?”

“And this behind-closed-doors deal, announced right after Congress is safely away from the crime scene on break, was fully supported by establishment Republicans. When it comes to protecting their own, they find a way to work just beautifully with the Democrats,” he added.

Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) said today that the exemption should add fuel to the drive to repeal Obamacare in its entirety — something the House has tried dozens of times with no movement on the Senate side.

“Once again, the Obama Administration has picked a chosen few for an exemption from Obamacare – this time the very people who wrote the law and then rammed it through the legislative process. We don’t need another loophole for Washington insiders,” Renacci said. “We need to fully repeal this 3,000 page unmitigated disaster and replace it with real, market based reforms that will expand coverage and lower costs. In other words, every American should get a permanent exemption from Obamacare.”

The news comes right before a recess in which Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are hoping to stoke grass-roots anger over Obamacare to support their goal of defunding the healthcare law in the Sept. 30 continuing resolution.

Republicans are divided over whether such a game plan is even feasible, with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) telling the defunders that they need to focus on chipping away at the massive law’s parts until it’s vulnerable enough to kill.

Some see clear momentum, though, with the administration’s own admission that the employer mandate would need to be delayed another year before it’s ready for implementation.

On Thursday, 39 Republican senators called on the White House to explain why 21 federal agencies with no responsibilities under Obamacare are investing time and money in helping implement the law.

The letter to White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler was led by Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), the senior Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. He was joined by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as well as other GOPs.

“We write to ask for information about the activities being undertaken by twenty or more federal agencies with no responsibilities under the President’s health care law in the implementation and promotion of that law, specifically about what the agencies are doing, what funds the agencies are spending, and what authorities the agencies are using,” states the letter, which came with three spreadsheets that “may have been sent to all government agencies, [and] appear to specifically require agencies to provide information and undertake activities in support of the health care law regardless of their statutory missions and responsibilities.”

Agencies involved in Obamacare promotion include the Departments of Education, Labor, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, and Commerce; the Institute for Museum and Library Services; and the Small Business Administration.

“There is a cost to the taxpayers for each and every one of these actions — particularly changing longstanding forms and notices or possibly adding new unfunded mandates or responsibilities to programs and grants without congressional consent. HHS has requested additional money to implement the health care law, and Congress denied that request,” the GOP senators write. “HHS now appears to be evading Congress’ constitutional power of the purse by using unrelated resources and authorities dedicated to other missions.”

“Furthermore, given that the Administration spent the last several months warning of alleged catastrophe from cutting approximately $85.3 billion out of a $3 trillion budget as part of sequestration, it is particularly surprising that unrelated resources, which previously could not be reduced, are now being used to implement or promote the health care law. It is troubling that taxpayer funds are being used in this way without notice to the Congress by each agency involved.”

The senators asked for all White House correspondence about directing or requesting agencies to work on Obamacare promotion. They want the documents by Aug. 14, another indicator that Obamacare will very much be a hot recess issue.

DeSantis also hopes momentum builds for his amendment, which he calls “an inarguable proposition if you believe in constitutional government.”

“This is astounding. Because Pelosi and Reid could not pass a law to create a special exemption for themselves, the administration is simply creating special rules for Congress by fiat,” the Florida Republican said.

“Will the American people be granted the same relief from skyrocketing health insurance costs that the members of our self-annointed ruling class have granted themselves?”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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Top Rated Comments   
"You see, the law being debated here is a rider to the ACA that one that specifically required Congress to buy policies on the exchanges - a requirement the rest of the population doesn't have to live under. So, when this amendment strips that out, then Congress will be free to get their policies off the exchange or from their, just like they do now and just like the rest of America is free to do."

Try reading those sentences aloud, then tell me where you get the balls to call anyone "semi-literate".
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"One pair of congressmen even have a constitutional amendment that would require members to live under the same laws as every other American,"

Why is this amendment even necessary? We already have the 14th Amendment. If they can ignore the 14th, they will ignore the 28th.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Excuse me: Didn't we have "equality under the law" in the United States of America? If the law applies to me and not to you, Mr. Congressman, why should I obey it if that obviously violates the principle of equality under the Law. I hate to be repetitive but we are seeking to make everyone equal in all kinds of silly matters but here we have a HUGE inequality. You get your fancy plan (that I PAY FOR) and you force me to take this lousy crap or pay a fine? Something tells me that there's going to be a lot of people unable to safely walk the streets Mr. Congressman. Why am I warming up tar? Why the bag with feathers? Don't you worry Mr. Congressman you are no exempt from the coming adjustment.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (40)
All Comments   (40)
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Please help me understand the principle of "Government for the people, by the people" whose Representatives and Executives exempt themselves from the laws they hold their people accountable to? Where is the Judicial Review? This "Government behavior" seems very similar to the Government behaviors associated with "Tyrannies". ??
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
21 Government agencies expending funds 'not authorized' to implement the 'Affordable Health Care Act' is 21 cases of misappropriation of government funds.

Asking for an explanation from the President and the heads of these agencies is REDICULIOUS... it clearly appears they have committed FELONIES by spending funds for purposes they were not authorized to do by Congress. It is past time to appoint a 'Speicial Prosecutor' to go after the criminal conduct. It is not time to glaze it over as if it were a simple misunderstanding.

I worked 26yrs in the military and if I had authorized the expenditure of one dollar too pursue a program not funded or authorized it would have been a criminal act. It appears that we have an Administration that regularly engages in criminal conduct. It is time that the members of Congress use their powers to prosecute these criminals rather than to cover up their misdeeds.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This is how the president will apparently "exempt" Members of Congress and their staffs from certain effects of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Of course, it involves money, or more accurately a subsidy, members of the public will never get.

First, what I am writing about is described here:

and here:

Until the PPACA goes into effect, Members of Congress and their staffs can participate in the Federal Employees' Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP), under chapter 89 of title 5, United States Code (5 U.S.C. 8901 et seq.). Under the FEHBP, Members of Congress and their staff receive a government contribution (i.e., a subsidy) of 75% of the premium, up to a maximum (see 5 U.S.C. 8906).

Under the PPACA, Members of Congress and their staff lose FEHBP coverage and must obtain health care coverage through the PPACA health insurance exchanges. Since they will not be in the FEHBP, they will be ineligible for the government subsidy under 5 U.S.C. 8906.

President Obama has decided to "fix" this problem by having the Office of Personnel Management issue regulations that will give Members of Congress and their staff the subsidy as participants in the PPACA health exchanges even though they are no longer in the FEHBP and subject to 5 U.S.C. 8906. Your guess is as good as mine as to where the authority comes from to issue a regulation that seems to so obviously depart from law. If this is permissible, then how would a Constitutional amendment stop them?

If this "deal" had not been struck, then Congress would have had to act to change the law to avoid the "problem." What a radical concept!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have always thought that anytime most Americans (voters) are required to join or be part of (Social security, health insurance, laws governing sexual abuse ,the draft etc. )the Congress, their staffs and all of the administration should have to participate. There should be no excuses. I have been disgusted that people from both parties did not participate in the various wars . Even Cheney had a couple of deferments...of course with his heart problems, he may not have been drafted anyway. They should have to slog along just like the cushy assignments like the ones Gore had. No one should be able to send troops to those places without some of the same type of experience..
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If we are in need of such an Amendment, it's already too late. The 14th Amendment should be enough. The Constitutional limits on the President should be enough.

You're starting to limit "my Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
saw something about the 14th amendment , sounded right to me .LOOK IT UP .
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Why don't Consumer groups, business groups and others sue the government on the basis of the Affordable Care Act is discriminatory. The law is NOT applied equally based on a persons job, or lack of a job. If you work for a union or the government you don't have to follow the law, yet if you are a middle class worker who is not union the law applies to you.
That is discriminatory. Second, how can the President have the authority to exempt anyone from federal law?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Isn't Obama violating the oath he took to defend the Constitution and to obey all laws? Congress passed the law and should impeach Obama for violating it. He has done this in the past and Congress is sitting on their collective hands.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
THIS (28th) is a PERFECT "litmus test" that can be applied to 100% of Politicans, Appointees and Bureaucrats. All conscious US citizens and pols Must support it or be considered defective - mentally, morally, ethically, etc. Just Do It Folks!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Check out the hypocrisy - Obama just gave liberal Massachusetts an illegal Obamacare waiver:
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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