chuckgrassley   21

Obamacare Policy Subsidizing Congressional Coverage Was Chuck Grassley's Idea
The Obama administration told lawmakers on Thursday that the federal government would continue contributing to their health care premiums and the health care premiums of their aides once they enrolled in the newly created insurance exchanges.

The decision was months, if not years, in the making. And it put to rest one of the unresolved issues created by the Affordable Care Act. But it also provided critics of the law with another reason to pounce.

Sen John Cornyn (R-Texas) called it an "outrageous exemption for Congress." Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) decried the "closed-door deal to fix Obamacare" for Congress only. "What the flip about fixing it for America?" he asked for good measure. Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) argued that "Obama should exempt EVERYONE from ObamaCare."

In actuality, no one is getting an exemption. The decision to have the Office of Personnel Management continue its contribution to health care premiums simply restored the original intent of the law, as written by a Republican senator.

During the crafting of the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) attempted to trip up Democrats by offering up an amendment that said members of Congress and their aides would be required to obtain their health care coverage from the newly created exchanges. His proposal read as follows (Amendment O):

This amendment would require that, notwithstanding any other provision of law, beginning in 2013, Members of Congress and Congressional staff must use their employer contribution (adjusted for age rating) to purchase coverage through a state-based exchange, rather than using the traditional selection of plans offered through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP).
The language here was fairly unambiguous. Members and their aides could use their traditional employer contributions to purchase health care coverage through the Obamacare exchanges. Grassley expected that the gambit would embarrass the White House. Instead, Democrats jumped at the proposal as a way to show solidarity behind the law.

Over time, however, the bill went through various revisions, and it became less clear which staffers would be required to participate in the exchanges. The language concerning the coverage subsidy was stripped out, leaving unanswered whether members and their aides would continue to get federal help.

Congress grew increasingly worried that without the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program -- which contributed nearly 75 percent of premium payments -- the cost of health care would skyrocket and talented Hill staffers would be encouraged to flee for better jobs. But it wasn't until this week that the issue was finalized, with the Obama administration confirming that the contributions would continue.

The Huffington Post reached out toGrassley's office for reaction but did not get a response. However, a former Republican congressional staffer familiar with the amendment said that the final ruling to keep the contribution in place matched the original intent of the provision.

"The intent was that Congress would be required to get the same plans that are available in the exchange and that the [Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan] would continue to operate," said the former staffer, who would only speak about the initial goal of the amendment on condition of anonymity. "The employer contribution, the tax treatment of it, the contributions by staff, the amount of them, every respect would remain intact."

"It would have been a much different notion if the amendment would have been to explicitly end the federal government contribution," the staffer added. "You can imagine that the kinds of concerns being raised now -- about staff and their ability to recruit and retain expertise -- would have come up at the time the amendment was offered."
AffordableCareAct  politics  health  healthcare  insurance  republicans  democrats  ChuckGrassley  government 
august 2013 by jtyost2
Grassley Says D.C. Circuit's Not Busy: Is He Right?
In other words, counting the number of cases a court hears each year doesn’t necessarily reflect its workload, because not all cases take up the same amount of a judge’s time. Patricia M. Wald, a former chief judge on the D.C. Circuit, argued in a Washington Post article earlier this year that the D.C. Circuit, which hears the lion’s share of cases regarding federal agency regulations, takes on some of the most laborious cases in the country.

“The D.C. Circuit hears the most complex, time-consuming, labyrinthine disputes over regulations with the greatest impact on ordinary Americans’ lives: clean air and water regulations, nuclear plant safety, health-care reform issues, insider trading and more,” Wald wrote. “These cases can require thousands of hours of preparation by the judges, often consuming days of argument, involving hundreds of parties and interveners, and necessitating dozens of briefs and thousands of pages of record -- all of which culminates in lengthy, technically intricate legal opinions.”

The unique caseload of the D.C. Circuit also adds an extra layer of importance to Obama’s attempt to fill the court’s vacancies: Over the next several years, the court will likely be asked to rule on agency rulemaking for issues from financial regulation to health care to environmental protections -- all Obama administration priorities.

But David Doniger, a senior lawyer at the Natural Resources Defense Council, who sees many of his group’s environmental priorities determined by the D.C. Circuit, is more worried about the number of judges on the court than its partisan leanings.

Doniger said Grassley’s assertion that the D.C. Circuit doesn’t need more judges is “surprising,” he told IBTimes in an interview on Wednesday. “On the one hand, the Republican mantra is that the administration is issuing too many regulations. And on the other hand, they say the D.C. Circuit doesn’t have enough work. So, which is it?” he said.

Based on his experience, Doniger said that the D.C. Circuit doesn’t move very quickly. “There’s a long gap between when you file the case and you’re given the schedule to write your briefs. And then there’s another long gap to oral argument,” Doniger said. “Now sometimes a case is decided relatively quickly after the argument, sometimes they linger for a long time. That’s got to be because these judges are carrying a big workload.”
ChuckGrassley  legal  government  usa  politics  congress 
june 2013 by jtyost2
Sorry, Chuck Grassley. Obama isn’t ‘packing the court.’
D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Sri Srinivasan won unanimous approval Thursday by the Senate. But before he did, his nomination led to one of the more amusing moments on C-SPAN in recent memory.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) used a hearing on Srinivasan’s nomination to accuse the Obama administration of trying to “pack” the D.C. Circuit. And then repeated the accusation another five times.
The only problem, as his colleague Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) gently pointed out, was that the term does not mean what Grassley thought it meant:
legal  government  usa  republicans  democrats  ChuckGrassley  SheldonWhitehouse  senate 
may 2013 by jtyost2
Flashback: Grassley called on Dems not to `use’ Newtown deaths
Histrionics broke out at a Senate immigration hearing this morning when Senator Patrick Leahy called on Republicans not to use the Boston bombings as a weapon in the immigration debate. “Last week, opponents began to exploit the Boston Marathon bombing,” Leahy said. “I urge restraint in that regard.”

Perhaps the most prominent Republican official to have drawn a link between the bombings and the immigration reform proposal is Senator Chuck Grassley. And so, at today’s hearing, Grassley offered some curious pushback to Leahy that tells us a lot about how some conservatives are approaching both debates. Yes, Grassley actually said this:

“When you proposed gun legislation, we did not accuse you of using the Newtown killings as an excuse,” Grassley said. “I think we’re taking advantage of an opportunity when once in 25 years we deal with immigration to make sure every base is covered.”

Really? Here’s what Grassley himself said back on January 30th, over a month after the shootings:

Although Newtown and Tucson are terrible tragedies, the deaths in Newtown should not be used to put forward every gun control measure that has been floating around for years.

What’s more, Senator Rand Paul and other Republicans have accused the Obama administration of using the families as “props” in the push for gun control.

To be clear, if conservatives want to seize on the Boston bombings to make a political argument about immigration reform, that’s not necessarily something we should automatically condemn, as some Dems are doing. As Jonathan Bernstein notes, we should respond to events with politics. Politics are everywhere and they are inescapable. If major, consequential, nationally riveting events aren’t supposed to trigger debate over how we should organize ourselves and solve our problems, what should trigger it?
PatrickLeahy  senate  congress  boston  BostonMarathonBombing  usa  legal  immigration  crime  terrorism  ChuckGrassley  guncontrol  politics  logic 
april 2013 by jtyost2
Twitter / @ChuckGrassley: I will give 100$ to the fi ...
Intellectually bankrupt Senator from Iowa. Remind me to recount the Jack Kemp story sometime.
to-blog  chuckles  chuckgrassley  senator  taxation  grammar 
march 2012 by nowthis

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