Graham Threatens to ‘Object’ to Deal, Demands Vote on Vitter Amendment

by Robert Costa

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.

“Now, I hope the House rises to the occasion here,” Graham continues. “But we’re down to stopping bad things, and the only bad thing at this point that we can really push on is the OPM rule. At this point, I’m not sure if we’re going to get it, so I’m going to object on any deal until I get that up-or-down vote. That’s only fair, and I believe the American people will be with me.”

Graham’s pledge to “object” to any deal that doesn’t include a vote on the Vitter amendment could shake up the ongoing Senate negotiations. Senate Democrats aren’t interested in having that vote, and they’ve asked Graham to not make this eleventh-hour demand. “But the Democrats have moved the goal posts on a reasonable deal,” he says. ”I know we can’t complain too much about our self-inflicted wounds, but the Democrats have gone too far.”