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Staffer Benefits Under Fire — From Members of Congress

Who said there was no drama in government work? How about when staffer health care benefits are coming under fire from lawmakers?  Seems odd that the men and women trusted to run the government want to yank insurance coverage from their own staff, who largely make approximately 20 percent less  than the competitive wages for their work.  It may not be an episode of “Scandal,” but it’s frightening just the same.  

My colleague, Hannah Hess , reports on this for Roll Call’s newest blog, Hill Blotter :

Thirty-eight Republican members of Congress are backing Sen. Ron Johnson’s lawsuit against the Obama administration over employee contributions to staff health care.

The lawmakers, including Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and John McCain, R-Ariz., on Monday filed an amicus brief in Wisconsin federal court, supporting Johnson’s challenge to the Office of Personnel Management rule on the issue. In response to a March 17 Justice Department request to dismiss the lawsuit, the GOP members argue that Johnson’s case deserves to be heard.

“The unlawful executive action at issue in this case is not an isolated incident,” the 35-page brief states. “Rather, it is part of an ongoing campaign by the Executive Branch to rewrite the Affordable Care Act (‘ACA’) on a wholesale basis.”

Hill Navigator was a Hill staffer once and recognizes that there are sacrifices to be made on the job: long hours, less sleep, plenty of weekends (and vacations) dominated by vote schedules and press releases. But health insurance shouldn’t be one of them.  

Staffers are there to ensure members of Congress can more effectively do their jobs: through constituent service, research, communication and the day-to-day tasks that come with being an elected representative. Staffers are there to help Congress function; they are the hardworking people who literally keep the lights on in the buildings. Members turning their ire on staffers seems undeserved and ill-advised. The emperor could soon be wearing no clothes.  

Congress will certainly pull its share of political stunts; it’s a disappointment that threatening to take away benefits from staffers has now become one of them.

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