Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told National Review’s Robert Costa on Sunday that he will not support a way out of Washington’s current fiscal impasse without a vote in the Senate on the so-called “Vitter amendment.”
The “Vitter amendment,” from Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), would bar lawmakers, congressional staffers, and administration staffers from receiving federal subsidies for health insurance under Obamacare. It has been opposed by both Republican and Democratic congressional staffs, because it effectively amounts to a pay cut of thousands of dollars.
But Graham isn’t demanding that the Vitter amendment becomes law as part of any deal that would reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.
He just wants an up-or-down vote — probably because he wants to use the Vitter amendment for its best purpose, which is as a talking point, going into his re-election campaign next year. Graham will be able to say that he voted to bar a congressional “exemption” from Obamacare, a talking point that has been disputed on both the left and right.
“Now, I hope the House rises to the occasion here,” Graham told Costa. “But we’re down to stopping bad things, and the only bad thing at this point that we can really push on is the OPM rule. At this point, I’m not sure if we’re going to get it, so I’m going to object on any deal until I get that up-or-down vote. That’s only fair, and I believe the American people will be with me.”
Graham is not likely to get his wish, so it remains to be seen if he’ll oppose a deal currently being discussed among a bipartisan group of senators, including Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The deal currently on the table reportedly doesn’t include anything relating to the Vitter amendment.
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