Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Which 22 House Democrats Voted to Delay Implementation of the Affordable Care Act Even More?

Today, the House took two votes concerning the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  I'll go through them in order.

The first bill was the Authority for Mandate Delay Act (H.R. 2667).  As you likely already read, the Obama administration recently decided to delay the implementation of the employer mandate for one year.  Rather than going into effect on January 1, 2014, it will go into effect on January 1, 2015.

Among those of us left of center, there were some supporters and some detractors. Frankly, substantive policy aspects aside, I think the decision made the administration look inept.  The Affordable Care act passed over three years ago, and there should have been ample time for planning and education.

The Mandate Delay Act was a statement of congressional approval for Obama's decision to delay the employer mandate for a year:
(a) In General- Section 1513(d) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is amended by striking `December 31, 2013' and inserting `December 31, 2014'.
    (b) Reporting Requirements-
        (1) REPORTING BY EMPLOYERS- Section 1514(d) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is amended by striking `December 31, 2013' and inserting `December 31, 2014'.
        (2) REPORTING BY INSURANCE PROVIDERS- Section 1502(e) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is amended by striking `2013' and inserting `2014'.
    (c) Effective Date- The amendments made by this section shall take effect as if included in the provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to which they relate.
The President and the House Democrats opposed it. I am not sure what authority the administration even had to delay the provision in the law since it is making an executive decision to violate the text of the law as written; however, the Republicans only wanted to pass it as a jab at the Affordable Care Act. It passed 264 to 161. 35 Democrats voted for it. 1 Republican voted against it: Morgan Griffith (VA-09).  I'm not sure why he voted against it, though. I feel that this vote was somewhat of an embarrassment for everyone, so I can't bring myself to care enough to do a roll call. 
The bill that was more directly intended to slow down implementation--apart from the administration's own slowness--was the latter bill, the Fairness for American Families Act.  The title stems from the GOP claim that if employers get a delay, it is only "fair" for "hard-working American families" to get one, too.  As we all know, the GOP cares about working families ever so much.  I'm personally no fan of the individual mandate as a concept.  It is rooted in a conservative belief in "personal responsibility" just as the exchanges are based in a conservative (or more aptly neoliberal) fetish for "choice."  However, the ACA is the law and is better than the status quo ante.

This bill passed 251 to 174.  Again, Griffith was the sole Republican opponent, and again I have no idea why.  22 Democrats voted for it.  Everything else was party line.

Which 22 Democrats voted to make implementation of the Affordable Care Act take even longer than it's already taking?

Ron Barber (AZ-02)
John Barrow (GA-12)
Julia Brownley (CA-26)
Cheri Bustos (IL-17)
Bill Enyart (IL-12)
Elizabeth Esty (CT-05)
Pete Gallego (TX-23)
Joe Garcia (FL-26)
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01)
Dan Maffei (NY-24)
Sean Maloney (NY-18)
Jim Matheson (UT-04)
Mike McIntyre (NC-07)
Patrick Murphy (FL-18)
Bill Owens (NY-21)
Scott Peters (CA-52)
Gary Peters (MI-14)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Nick Rahall (WV-03)
Raul Ruiz (CA-36)
Brad Schneider (IL-10)
Krysten Sinema (AZ-09)

12 of these Democrats won last year with a margin of victory less than 5%.  20 out of the 22 received less than 55% of the total vote last election.  I wouldn't be surprised if DCCC chair Steve Israel told them to vote this way because the Democrats always seem to believe that they boost their chances by not voting like Democrats.

Collin Peterson (MN-07), however, won his last election 60.4% to 34.8%.  That's a pretty comfortable margin of victory, but Peterson has a very conservative voting record for the party.

Gary Peters's name stands out the most to me on this list because he is running for Carl Levin's vacant Senate seat next year. He won his House seat last year 82.3% to 15.6%, and Michigan is a blue state. Peters has been racking up quite the list of awful votes lately, and I don't see why he thinks that that will help him win next year.

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