House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) slammed the Obama administration’s decision to temporarily postpone Obamacare’s employer mandate in a closed-door meeting with Republicans on Tuesday, calling it “indefensible,” and discussed options for a legislative response in the House.
“Is it fair for the president of the United States to give American businesses an exemption from his health-care law’s mandates, without giving the same exemption to the rest of America? Hell no, it’s not fair,” Boehner told GOP members, referring to the law’s individual mandate, which remains on track to take effect in 2014.
The speaker also discussed the possible actions the House could take legislatively, according to a source in the room. For example, Boehner raised the idea of voting on a one-year delay of the employer mandate – precisely what the administration has decided to enact unilaterally — followed by a vote on a one-year delay of the law’s individual mandate, which Democrats would presumably oppose. Doing so would get Democrats on record and highlight the “indefensible” nature of the administration’s decision.
“We should be thinking about giving the rest of America the same exemption that Obama last week gave businesses,” Boehner said. Delaying the individual mandate in addition to the employer mandate, he argued, “would be removing another leg from the rickety stool that’s propping Obamacare up.”
Holding a vote on the employer mandate delay could also serve to highlight the question of whether or not President Obama has the authority to impose the delay without congressional approval, which has not yet received a definitive answer. In a letter to Obama on Tuesday, Boehner and other House leaders asked the White House to explain the legality of its decision, among other things. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) has also asked the Congressional Budget Office to evaluate the economic impact of the president’s decision to delay such a central provision of his signature law.