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Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) tells me he will “object” to any pending fiscal deal, unless the Senate concurrently votes on the Vitter amendment, which would end federal contributions to congresional health-care plans.
“We’re in a compromised situation, but I’m going on offense,” Graham explains, in an interview at Pete’s Diner on Capitol Hill. “Members of Congress and their staffs should not be exempted from Obamacare, and I’m going to insist that if the Senate wants to move forward on any deal, we have to overturn the [Office of Personnel Management's] ruling on congressional employees,” or, at the least, force senators to vote on it in the coming days.
Of course, members of Congress and their staff are not exempt from Obamacare. They just have leeway in turning it down or having some staff participate. The real outcome of Vitter's—and Graham's—effort is "throwing staff under the bus" in the words of a disgruntled GOP staffer. It means taking the employer part of health insurance premiums away from staff, forcing them to pay the whole bill or find another job.
House Republicans (other than staff) think this is a swell idea. Other than them, it's pretty much just Vitter fighting this battle. So that's who Graham is throwing his lot in with in his filibuster threat. The people who, he said less than a month ago, would be his "enemies for life" if they shut down government.
Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 10:22 AM PDT.