House GOP issues subpoena for ObamaCare docs

House Republican committee chairmen on Wednesday subpoenaed Treasury Secretary Jack LewJack LewCEO group urges Congress to act on proposed tax rules IRS doubted legality of ObamaCare payments, former official says Overnight Finance: GOP makes its case for impeaching IRS chief | Clinton hits Trump over housing crash remarks | Ryan's big Puerto Rico win MORE for documents related to ObamaCare payments that Republicans say are unlawful. 

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin BradyIRS doubted legality of ObamaCare payments, former official says Report: Pacific trade pact would boost growth, jobs and incomes Puerto Rico debt becomes constitutional fight on the right MORE (R-Texas) issued the subpoena for Lew and three IRS officials to produce documents related to financial help for people under ObamaCare known as “cost sharing reductions.”

ADVERTISEMENT
The lawmakers are issuing the subpoena after repeatedly requesting the information throughout 2015 but being rebuffed by the administration. The administration pointed out that the ObamaCare payments in question are currently the subject of a lawsuit filed by House Republicans against the administration, and providing the documents could “compromise” the litigation. 

Republicans argue in the case, House v. Burwell, that President Obama is unconstitutionally overstepping his authority by making the payments under ObamaCare without a congressional appropriation. 

The administration argues that no appropriation is needed and that ObamaCare set up the payments as mandatory spending, which is not subject to the yearly appropriations process.

Cost-sharing reductions are payments that help ObamaCare enrollees afford out of pocket costs such as deductibles in their plans. They are in addition to the better-known tax credits that help people afford premiums. Over 5 million people receive cost-sharing reductions.

The House chairmen are pressing forward with their separate oversight channel even as the lawsuit proceeds. 

The chairmen said in a statement Wednesday that Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell agreed in a conversation with Upton this week to provide a briefing on the issue. The lawmakers say that agreement is putting an additional subpoena for HHS on “short-term hold and granting HHS one last chance to provide the requested information and documents.”

The subpoena for Lew commands that he appear before Congress on Feb. 3 to produce the documents. 

“What’s the self-proclaimed ‘most transparent administration in history’ trying to hide?” Brady and Upton said in a statement, adding that “subpoenas should not be necessary to gather basic information” about the ObamaCare payments.