Call this another example of how crappy process leads to crappy legislation, but congressional committee staff and the staff of leadership offices -the staff serving the Office of the Speaker, for example- are not bound by the health care act passed last night. Per The New Ledger:
But as with a lot of legislative matters, the devil is in the details — or in this case, the definitions. As anyone who’s worked on Capitol Hill knows, the personal office staff for a member is governed by different rules than those who work on committees and in the leadership offices. It appears from the way this language is written that those staffers NOT in personal offices, such as those working and paid under the committee structure (such as those working for Chairman Henry Waxman) or those working on leadership staff (such as those working for Speaker Nancy Pelosi) would be exempt from these requirements (emphasis added).
- (ii) DEFINITIONS- In this section:
- (I) MEMBER OF CONGRESS- The term `Member of Congress’ means any member of the House of Representatives or the Senate.
- (II) CONGRESSIONAL STAFF- The term `congressional staff’ means all full-time and part-time employees employed by the official office of a Member of Congress, whether in Washington, DC or outside of Washington, DC.
According to the Congressional Research Service, this definition of staff will only apply to those staffers employed within a member’s “personal office” — meaning that it will absolutely not apply to committee staff members, and may not apply to leadership staff.
This problem was acknowledged earlier in the process — last year, Senator Grassley tried to repair it, but he was rebuffed.
As Speaker Pelosi said a few weeks ago, it’s only after this legislation is passed that we’ll truly find out what’s in it.
As TNL points out, the staff who created this exemption were also the ones heavily involved in writing the bill itself. Pretty neat, huh? On the one hand creating the greatest health-care reform EVER!1!1! by which we are all bound whether we want it or not, while on the other carving out a little loophole for yourself. And, of course, with the majority hell-bent on ramming this bill through as fast as possible, there was no time to vet it for just this kind of Easter egg.
It’s great to be the ones who writes the rules, ain’t it? Even the masters are bound by it, but not the servants themselves.
Fools on the one hand, weasels on the other.
One more to be entered into the Book of Grudges for November.
LINKS: Hot Air notices.