Vitter accuses Reid of 'threats, intimidation and bribery'

Vitter has demanded a vote on his amendment that would require the president, the vice president, political appointees and all congressional staffers to use ObamaCare's health exchanges, and prohibit employer contributions to make insurance more affordable for those federal employees. 

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Vitter said he was willing to let Democrats have a side-by-side amendment. Reid proposed one that would prohibit any employer contribution to senators who have offered an amendment that would prohibit such contributions on behalf of other individuals, or who has voted for the adoption of such an amendment — meaning Republicans who supported Vitter’s amendment would not be able to contribute to their staff’s insurance costs. Vitter called that “bribery.”

“Amendments [Democratic leadership] floated last week … were about threats, intimidation and bribery,” Vitter said.

Vitter was complaining that Reid said he’d allow a vote on Vitter’s amendment but that the vote hasn’t materialized.

“If the Majority Leader agrees to a vote in principle, we need a vote in reality,” Vitter said. “I think the majority leader, quite frankly, is very concerned about this vote … that’s why they rely on threats and intimidation to avoid this vote, [but] that didn’t work.”

The manager of the bill, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) took objection with the “reality” of Vitter’s comments, pointing out that Reid offered a deal but then Republicans demanded more votes on unrelated amendments.

"The reality is, we could have had a vote already on the amendment offered by the senator from Louisiana," Wyden said, "if colleagues on his side of the aisle had not insisted on all these other amendments that were not related to energy efficiency."

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced S. 1392, which contains measures to boost building codes, train workers in energy efficient building technologies, help manufacturers become more efficient and bolster conservation efforts at federal agencies, among other provisions. The Senate has been working to reach an amendment deal on the bill for two weeks.

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