Boehner and the Subsidies

by Robert Costa

Speaker John Boehner has been pushing hard over the past few days to end a health-care exemption for congressional employees:

With the federal government nearing shutdown, House Speaker John Boehner stood on the House floor Monday and called on his colleagues to vote for a bill banning a “so-called exemption” that lawmakers and staffers receive for their health insurance.

“Why don’t we make sure that every American is treated just like we are?” Boehner asked, seeking to prohibit members of Congress and Capitol Hill aides from getting thousands of dollars in subsidies for their health insurance as they join Obamacare-mandated insurance exchanges.

According to Politico’s John Bresnahan, however, Boehner’s private position on the exemption may be different than his public remarks:

Yet behind-the-scenes, Boehner and his aides worked for months with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and others, to save these very same, long-standing subsidies, according to documents and e-mails provided to POLITICO. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was also aware of these discussions, the documents show.

During a five-month period stretching from February to July, Boehner and his aides sought along with Reid’s office to solve what had become a big headache for both of them. They drafted and reviewed a possible legislative fix, as well as continued to push for an administrative one from the Office of Personnel Management.

NRO reached out to the House leadership for a response. Here’s a statement from a senior House Republican aide, who defended Boehner’s position.

Senate Democratic staff have selectively released emails between senior staffers to feed a misleading story to the mainstream media.  The Speaker’s position has always been clear:  he wants to repeal ObamaCare.  Washington Democrats created this awful law, and any ‘fix’ that Sen. Reid and the White House cooked up would be their ‘fix.’  Our ‘fix’ – as the Speaker made clear to Sen. Reid and the White House – is repealing the entire law.  All this proves is that Senate Democrats, unable to defend the indefensible, are willing to break the most basic rules of trust and decency.  And it exposes to the world how far they will go to preserve their own subsidy under ObamaCare and how much they fear tough votes on ObamaCare for vulnerable senators.