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Public Statements

Making Continuing Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2013--Continued

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, obviously I will be brief. I was simply trying to engage the majority leader in a simple question. I will lay out the question here. I think it deserves an answer, not for me but for the American people. Last week I had written the majority leader noting that several press reports have stated that he has exempted much of his staff, specifically leadership staff, from ObamaCare, from the mandate of the ObamaCare statute that we and our staffs go to the exchanges for our health care. He has exempted much of his staff from that. So I laid out some specific and pertinent and important questions related to that in a letter to him dated December 10, last week. I have gotten no response. I obviously got no response this morning. In fact, he would not even yield for my question.

I think that is unfortunate. It is unfortunate not because I personally deserve an answer, it is unfortunate because this is important. I think his constituents and the American people deserve an answer. So I restated those four specific questions in my letter. They are in my letter. I ask unanimous consent that the letter be printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

Hon. Leader Harry Reid (D-NV),
Office of the Senate Majority Leader,
The Capitol, Washington, DC.

DEAR MAJORITY LEADER REID, It has been reported that you are the only Member of top Congressional leadership--House and Senate, Democrat and Republican--who has exempted some of your staff from having to procure their health insurance through the Obamacare Exchange as clearly required by the Obamacare statute.

Millions of Americans are losing the health care plans and doctors they wanted to keep and are facing dramatic premium increases, all as Washington enjoys a special exemption. Given this, I ask you to publicly and in writing answer the four important questions below regarding your office's exemption. I will also be on the Senate floor to discuss this at approximately 4:15 pm today and invite you to join me there.

First, how did you designate each member of your staff, including your leadership staff, regarding their status as ``official'' (going to the Exchange) or ``not official'' (exempted from Exchange)? Did you delegate that designation to the Senate Disbursing Office, which would have the effect of exempting all of your leadership staff from going to the Exchange?

Second, if any of your staff is designated as ``not official'' (exempted from Exchange), are any of those staff members receiving official taxpayer-funded salaries, benefits, office space, office equipment, or any other taxpayer support?

Third, if any of your staff is designated as ``not official'' (exempted from Exchange), did any of these staff members assist you in drafting or passing Obamacare into law? If so, which staff members exactly?

Fourth, how are the above designations of yours consistent with the clear, unequivocal statement you made on September 12: ``Let's stop these really juvenile political games--the one dealing with health care for senators and House members and our staff. We are going to be part of exchanges, that's what the law says and we'll be part of that.''

I look forward to your clear, written responses to these important questions. I also look forward to having fair, up-or-down votes on the Senate floor on my ``Show Your Exemptions'' and ``No Washington Exemptions'' proposals in the new year.



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