Vitter to block nomination, citing ObamaCare rule

Vitter to block nomination, citing ObamaCare rule
© Greg Nash

Sen. David VitterDavid Bruce VitterLobbying World Senate confirms Trump judge who faced scrutiny over abortion views Collins votes against Trump judicial pick MORE (R-La.) is blocking a high-ranking nomination at the Office of Personnel Management, an agency that he says is responsible for an “unfair, possibly illegal” exemption from ObamaCare.

Vitter announced Wednesday that he will refuse to allow Earl Gay to become the agency’s deputy director because the agency has ignored his questions about what he calls the “Washington exemption for ObamaCare.”

“Once they answer some specific questions about why they think Congress is entitled to a special exemption from Obamacare, I’ll release the hold,” Vitter wrote in a statement Wednesday.

Vitter, who was recently named chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, has long made it a priority to show the benefits that lawmakers receive from ObamaCare.

Last week, Vitter accused congressional clerks of filing false information with the District of Columbia's ObamaCare marketplace to ensure that lawmakers and staff could obtain subsidized health insurance through the system. 

The vocal critic of Congress's employer healthcare subsidy claimed Wednesday that Capitol Hill administrators ran afoul of ethics rules by classifying Congress as a "small business" on applications to participate in D.C.'s Small Business Exchange. That allows members of Congress to continue to collect a subsidy that pays for a large chunk of their healthcare costs, he said.

The rule also allows some staff to avoid the exchange entirely. A loophole used in both chambers allows lawmakers to designate staff as "unofficial" or "official staff," which permits them to keep their insurance coverage under the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program.

Vitter announced last week that he was launching an investigation into the rule.