It's fair to say that one of the least popular senators on Capitol Hill these days is Louisiana's David Vitter —
and that the displeasure extends to Democrats and many of his fellow Republicans alike.
Vitter, who is running for governor this year, hasn't won himself a lot of friends among his Senate colleagues with his determined effort to force members of Congress and their staffers to sign up for Obamacare
, so they can experience what their constituents are dealing with —
which all too often is chaos and frustration.
This background may help explain why Vitter, chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, suffered an unusual rebuke Thursday, when Republicans on the panel joined Democrats in voting against his efforts to investigate what he suspects is fraud committed by some congressional staffers in connection with enrollment in Obamacare.
Vitter was demanding unredacted copies of health insurance applications used by members of Congress to enroll in the small-business exchange. The Louisiana lawmaker alleged that congressional staff had falsified documents in order to allow members of Congress and their staff to receive subsidized insurance, The Hill reported.
But in what the website characterized as a "surprising" vote, five Republicans joined the committee's nine Democrats to oppose Vitter's efforts to issue a subpoena.
The Republicans who joined the Democrats in lining up against Vitter
included Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, who had previously joined him in co-sponsoring legislation to address the Obamacare/congressional staffers matter.
In addition to Enzi and Paul, the other Republicans voting against the Vitter's subpoena were Sens. Jim Risch (Idaho), Deb Fischer (Nebraska), and Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire).
Four Republicans voted with Vitter, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a presidential hopeful.
Vitter condemned the vote and promised to continue to fight against what he denounces as "Washington's special Obamacare exemption."
"The message is clear," Vitter said angrily. "Congress should be able to lie so that members can get a special Obamacare subsidy unavailable to anyone else at that income level."
Vitter's staff had previously said that all GOP senators, except Paul, would vote "yes."
Vitter wanted the exchange to turn over nine pages of applications. He said the documents would prove findings from a months-long investigation, which he said uncovered "blatantly false misrepresentations" in members’ applications for Obamacare. Vitter has alleged that congressional staffers had provided false information in order to enable members of Congress and their staff to obtain subsidized insurance.
Vitter had previously obtained copies of the applications, but asserted they had been erased of "any information that could identify the source of these fraudulent statements."
Even with the redactions, Vitter said he found glaring problems with the documents, including claims that Congress employs 50 or fewer full-time employees and a list of employee names "that are clearly made up."
Vitter said Thursday that he is weighing various options to deal with the matter, but said flatly: "I'm certainly not going to drop the issue."
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