House GOP lawmakers demand hold on Burwell

 

Five House Republicans from Louisiana are demanding that their senators place a hold on President Obama's nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) until the administration withdraws the individual mandate.

The call for Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and David Vitter (R-La.) to act comes as Landrieu faces a tough reelection battle that has ObamaCare at the center of the debate. It is unlikely to bring any changes to the law, because Senate Democrats have the votes to confirm a new HHS head.

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In a letter Tuesday, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and four colleagues strongly criticized the Affordable Care Act as a drag on the economy and disruptive to the health insurance system.

The lawmakers urged Landrieu and Vitter to use the nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell as leverage to try to extract changes to the law, implying that the individual mandate to buy health insurance should be abolished.

"It is wholly unfair for families to still be threatened with penalties from the [Internal Revenue Service] at the same time as insurance companies and businesses are granted unilateral relief," the group wrote.

Senate Democrats currently have the votes to approve Burwell, the current White House budget director, to her new post. Holds or filibusters of the nomination, though, were widely expected as Republicans seek to use ObamaCare to hammer vulnerable Democrats like Landrieu.

One of her potential opponents, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), signed the letter.