Report: Boehner Secretly Fought To Preserve Heath Care Subsidies For Congressional Staff

AP

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) worked with top congressional Democrats behind the scenes to preserve employer contributions for congressional staff’s health care plans even as he decried those subsidies in public, Politico reported Tuesday.

Emails and documents obtained by Politico show Boehner and his aides worked with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), among others, to find a way to maintain the long-standing employer contributions. Those documents also show that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was aware of the behind-the-scenes talks.

In addition to those efforts, Boehner attempted to arrange a meeting with President Barack Obama to ask for help in securing the subsidies, the documents show. Although Boehner and the president never met to discuss the contributions, a senior Boehner aide was able to meet with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on the issue, according to Politico.

A Boehner spokesman denied that the speaker’s efforts went against the speaker’s public position on Obamacare.

“We always made it clear that the House would not pass any legislative ‘fix,’” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told the publication. “As POLITICO has previously reported, Speaker Boehner was aware that Sen. Reid and the White House were discussing this issue. He was always clear, however, that any ‘fix’ would be a Democratic ‘fix.’ His ‘fix’ is repealing” Obamacare.

Reid’s communications director Adam Jentleson told Politico that the Nevada Democrat “appreciates Speaker Boehner’s cooperation and tireless efforts to work through this difficult issue.”

House Republicans attempted to pass a temporary spending bill hours before the midnight deadline to fund the government Monday that included a provision denying employer contributions to congressional staff.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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