Harkin blocks Vitter’s ObamaCare amendment

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) objected to Sen. David Vitter’s (R-La.) attempt to pass his ObamaCare amendment.

The Senate is considering the Drug Quality and Security Act, H.R. 3204, would make it easier to trace drugs throughout the U.S. supply chain.

Vitter has been forcing the Senate to run out the clock on all procedural moves with the bill in an effort to get an amendment vote on his Show Your Exemption Act, which would force members of Congress to disclose which of their staff they have exempted from enrolling in the ObamaCare health insurance exchange.

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“That information should absolutely be made public,” Vitter said Wednesday. “Whatever we think about the underlying issues … to me, it’s a no brainer that there should be full disclosure about how each office chooses to handle the situation.”

Vitter asked for unanimous consent to bring up his amendment to the bill subject to a 60-vote threshold. Harkin objected. Then Vitter asked unanimous consent to pass H.R. 3204 and proceed to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), — the next legislation the Senate will consider — and then have a vote on his amendment when the Senate considers NDAA. Harkin objected to that as well.

“We need a rule change so not just one person can demand such unreasonable accommodations,” Harkin said. “It’s outrageous.”

Harkin said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) offered to give Vitter an up-or-down vote later this year, but Vitter wouldn’t take the deal.

Earlier Wednesday, Reid asked Vitter to stop blocking the “life saving” drug bill before the Senate.

Vitter has criticized the Obama administration for allowing members of Congress to exempt some of their staff from enrolling in ObamaCare. He also has a bill to stop that rule, which also allowed congressional staffers to receive employer contributions to pay for healthcare expenses.

“If a member actually has the gall to say all these people who work for me are not official staff … people have a right to know that,” Vitter said.