President Obama's unilateral action on immigration isn't to blame for the latest GOP move to block one of his nominees. This time, it's health care.
On Wednesday, Sen. David Vitter announced he would hold the nomination of retired U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Earl Gay to serve as the deputy director of the Office of Personnel Management. Gay currently serves as senior adviser to the director of OPM, the typically noncontroversial agency that manages federal job-announcement postings, conducts background checks on prospective employees, manages pension benefits, and more.
And why? Because of what the Louisiana Republican calls the "Washington Exemption from Obamacare," which Vitter has often railed against.
Essentially, the Affordable Care Act requires lawmakers and some congressional staff to receive their health insurance on the Washington, D.C., health exchange, called D.C. Health Link. But some staff can be considered "unofficial." And, voilÃ , that loophole has allowed staff to get their health insurance the old way, through the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, where they are allocated a stipend to pay for health insurance.
But, here's the catch that Vitter calls the "Washington Exemption": OPM decided that staffers, those designated as "official staff," would sign up through the D.C. small-business health marketplace. This means their employers are allowed to make contributions to their health plan (though there's a limit to how much can be given).