Thursday, April 25, 2013

Congress Could Repeal Obamacare for themselves

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Congressman John Barrow (GA-12) today sent a letter to the House leadership criticizing backroom negotiations that led to the repeal of provisions in the STOCK Act and discussions about possibly exempting members of Congress and Congressional aides from the Affordable Care Act. UPDATE: STOK Act was repealed with no time to waste by both chambers and signed by President Barack Obama on April 15, tax and the Boston Marathon explosion day. Why social issues always take decades to pass, such as the Affordable Care Act or the never ending discussion about immigration laws?

“The American people are quickly losing trust in Congress for backroom deals and legislation passed silently through Congress,” said Congressman Barrow.  “Regardless of our position on the legislation, I’m disappointed in the direction House leadership is taking on critical legislation, and I urge them to be more transparent in their actions if they ever expect to earn the American people’s trust.”

This month, both the House and Senate passed legislation that would rescind provisions in the STOCK Act that would require government employees to post financial disclosures online. Additionally, news reports surfaced this week that House and Senate leaders were in discussions to exempt members of Congress and Congressional aides from insurance exchanges proposed in the Affordable Care Act.

The full text of the letter to the House leadership is below:

Dear House Leadership [Boehner, Pelosi, Cantor, Hoyer],

We were very disappointed to have had to read in the news media of the passage last week of a controversial piece of legislation, brought up after House leadership had indicated that voting for the week was over.  Regardless of what we feel about the policy of the STOCK Act, passing a bill to partially rescind it deserved a proper floor consideration and a vote, at the very least. Instead, bringing it up after Members were dismissed for the week was a violation of our trust in you, and more importantly, a violation of the dwindling trust our constituents have in all of us.

This morning, Politico reports that “congressional leaders in both parties are engaged in high-level, confidential talks about exempting lawmakers and Capitol Hill aides from the insurance exchanges they are mandated [by the Affordable Care Act] to join.”  As with the STOCK Act, we may have differences of opinion about the validity of this policy, but we’ve all spent the last three years confirming the existence of this requirement to our constituents.  We strongly urge you to bring some transparency to this conversation and give us a chance to weigh in on any proposed revisions.

Like you, we were elected to do right by our constituents.  We are confident that you are guided by that principle.  But not allowing the whole House to be part of these conversations is a mistake and denigrates the institution and its Members.

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