Five Republican senators joined with nine Democrats recently to vote down Small Business Committee Chairman David Vitter’s subpoena to determine which members of Congress may be responsible for defrauding the government through the District of Columbia’s Obamacare exchange.
Vitter sought an un-redacted copy of the Obamacare application to determine who listed the number of employees as 45, which qualified congressional staff members for special small business employee subsidies.
What information Vitter could see from the application indicated it was clearly fraudulent: some of the employees listed on the application include “First Lady” and “Congress”
Not surprisingly, none of the nine Democrats on the committee offered support for the subpoena; however, all the Republicans on the committee, with the exception of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., whose office was unresponsive, indicated they would vote with Vitter to issue the subpoena.
Vitter’s staff reached out multiple times to Paul’s office; but they were stonewalled, which was a mystery to the Louisiana senator. Paul has been vocal about his opposition to Obamacare and defrauding the taxpayers.
Michael Cannon, director of health-policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, told National Review, “We deserve to know who signed that application, because they are robbing taxpayers,” adding that we also deserve to “know who was directing them to do this. And so we have to follow the trail of breadcrumbs. This is the next breadcrumb, and whoever is farther up the trail wants to stop Vitter right here.”
Four Republicans senators–Mike Enzi (Wyo.), James Risch (Idaho), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), and Deb Fischer (Neb.)–indicated they would be supporting Vitter’s subpoena and then pulled their support before the vote, which ended up being 5 in favor of the subpoena and 14 against. Paul voted against the subpoena, as well. The National Review reports:
Senate staffers, according to a top committee aide, reported seeing Missouri senator Roy Blunt make calls to at least two Republican committee members, lobbying them, at Mitch McConnell’s behest, to vote no on subpoenaing the exchange. By the time the committee was called to quorum, Enzi, Risch, Ayotte, and Fischer voted no.
Some have speculated whether McConnell put the pressure on Paul to withhold his support or vice versa, because it would be embarrassing to one of their offices what the un-redacted copy of the Obamacare exchange application would reveal.
Mark Levin told his listeners last week, he believes blackmail was afoot and Paul was doing McConnnell’s dirty work.
“The answers he has given do not make sense,” Cannon added regarding Paul’s vote. “And when someone with his principles does something that is so obviously against his principles, and does not give an adequate explanation, you begin to think that politics is afoot. It would have to be someone very powerful that made him a powerful pitch — or threat — to keep him from doing this.” Paul’s press secretary told National Review that the senator “examines every opportunity to [oppose Obamacare] individually, and does not base his vote on requests made by other senators, including the majority leader.”
Republican senators Marco Rubio (Fla.), Tim Scott (S.C.), Cory Gardner (Colo.), and Joni Ernst (Iowa) voted with Vitter to subpoena DC Obamacare exchange to obtain an un-redacted copy of the application.
Regarding those who voted against Vitter, a senior GOP committee aide said, “The people who signed these documents perpetrated a fraud on the taxpayers, and the senators who just voted to kill this subpoena are now complicit in that fraud.”
“The message is clear: Congress should be able to lie so that members can get a special Obamacare subsidy unavailable to anyone else at that income level,” Vitter said. “Designating the House and Senate as ‘small businesses’ with 45 employees is not right. And we owe it to our constituents to find out how this was permitted to happen.”