Dancin With the Stars or “Why is there an Exemption for Representatives, Senators, and Washington staff?
After being confronted by TPM reporter Alice Ollstein about the exemption for Washington elected officials and their staff, it was obvious they were caught off guard. Read some of the answers dancing around the issue.
New Jersey Republican Representative Tom MacArthur who proposed an amendment allowing states to opt out of key PPACA requirements. Read what he and other Republican House Representatives had to say when they were asked about the exempt to the latest AHCA amendment I had writen about.
Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ); he is working to fix the language in question.
Rep. MacArthur puts out statement saying Congress shouldn’t get special treatment, they are working to fix exemption.
Rep. Scott Desjarleis (R-TN); “I don’t know about that. That’s a good question,”
Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA).; “I’ll have to read the language more closely,”
Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY); “I didn’t know there was [an exemption for members of Congress]. I don’t know what you’re talking about,”
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), ” because D.C. is not a state, it can not apply for or receive the same waivers states can under their bill.”
Rep. David Brat (R-VA) “an exemption for members of Congress seeking to deregulate the health care market “would be, politically, completely tone deaf.”
Other Republicans: “the carve-out would have to be addressed with a new piece of legislation for complicated parliamentary reasons. A senior leadership staff member confirmed that they are working on a ‘stand-alone effort’ to undo the exemption, which lawmakers would vote on at the same time as the larger health care package.
Freedom Caucasus member Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA): “the fix has to come through a separate bill. Did not know whether D.C. could get the same waivers as a state under the legislation; but, Griffith said it did not matter because ‘liberal’ D.C. wouldn’t seek a waiver in the first place.
Republican lawmakers and staff: it was inserted in the first place in order to ensure that it could pass the Senate under what is known as the Byrd Rule, though they did not fully explain why.
The Byrd Rule dictates that strict budgetary legislation that does not increase the federal deficit after 10 years can be fast-tracked through the Senate on a simple majority vote.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX); the Byrd Rule was ‘the genesis’ of the exemption provision, but promised that “every member of Congress is going to vote to make sure we are treated like everybody else.”
Again Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC): It was a provision that, from a fatal standpoint, would not allow us to address it because jurisdictionally on the budget reconciliation instructions, that were narrowly tailored to two different committees of jurisdiction. To fully address that would had to have gone over to another area which would have made it fatal.” huh?
And the truth?
Health care law expert and professor at Washington and Lee University, Tim Jost: “D.C. is clearly defined as a state in the Affordable Care Act. And I don’t see anything in the AHCA that changes that, including this provision,” he said. “The provision provides for congressional coverage through the marketplace, and the language is clear [regarding the exemption].”
I think most of these reps are residents of the state they represent in Congress, so why wouldn’t they be exempt from the exclusion as defined by the amendment?
The house has been in session between 100 and 175 days in the last decade. I’d be surprised if, for tax purposes, most congresspeople were not residents of DC, Maryland, or Virginia.
How do you reconcile that with your constituents not being a resident of the state you represent? Do you have to be a citizen of a Congressional District you represent? Is there tax advantages otherwise? That is a pretty deep rabbit hole.
If you are a state department employee posted to Paris, it’s understood that you’re living in Paris unless you live in the embassy. Congress is the same.
Lots of constituents and candidates complain about congress in general being part of the “beltway swamp”. I recall this being a general criticism of Al Gore, that he was nominally from Tennessee, but that in practice, given his father’s job, he spent essentially his entire life in the DC area (including being born in DC).
The tax advantage probably isn’t significant unless you’re from a state with very high top income tax rates like California, or you’re a person who is making money off their identity (writes books, lots of paid speaking).
States typically have partial year resident rules that tax on all income while a resident, and local source income while a non-resident.
The legislative calendar basically has one week a month off, two weeks at Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and the month of August. It would be unreasonable to expect that any legislator is a resident of their state by the standards the rest of us live under.
Regardless, the tax definition isn’t the same as the more general criteria. The criteria in practice seems to generally be “owns property in the district they represent, and if they’re here, that’s where they stay”
This is what I was going for in my question. “The U.S. Constitution requires that a U.S. Senator shall “when elected, be an inhabitant of that state for which he shall be chosen.” Ditto, a U.S. Representative.” There is more to this than just this. Good read here: https://www.thoughtco.com/residency-requirements-for-congress-3971823
Given their demographic and career profile, most members of congress are probably under either VA or Medicare anyway.
<20% in 2014 were veterans.