Congressional staffers are the lifelines of members of Congress. So, how do you get under the skin of a senator or a representative? Bring their staff into the debate.
This seems to be the tactic being used in the continuing-resolution debate happening in Washington right now, one utilized by both President Obama on Friday and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, during his long speech from Tuesday into Wednesday.
Take Cruz first. When discussing what he said are the negative effects of the Affordable Care Act, he brought his staff into the picture, saying many were concerned about the law’s effects on their personal income and welfare.
Among congressional staff, just like among members, the idea that they would be subject to Obamacare deeply concerns them. It concerns them on the money side and it concerns them on the quality of care and health insurance that they will be able to get on the exchanges.
I have had one staff member already indicate she would retire after many years of service, and the possibility of being put on Obamacare was a real factor in that decision.
President Obama used a similar tactic when talking about a potential government shutdown. If Congress doesn’t pass a continuing resolution in the coming days, their staffers won’t be able to come into work or get paid. And the president wanted to remind lawmakers of just that.
So, any Republican in Congress who is currently watching, I’d encourage you to think about who you’re hurting. There are probably young people in your office right now who came to work for you without much pay because they believe that public service was noble. You’re preparing to send them home without a paycheck.
It’s unclear whether this playbook works, but it’s hard to overstate the value that staffers have to their bosses — advising them on how to vote on legislation, responding to constituents, writing committee and floor speeches, running the office, communicating with other lawmakers’ offices, and of course, crafting legislation.
By invoking the potential suffering of their staff, Cruz and Obama are banking on lawmakers acting to prevent such outcomes. For without staffers, Washington can’t run, and lawmakers know it.
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"House Republicans are circulating the text of an amendment to their ObamaCare replacement bill that they believe could bring many conservatives on board. According to legislative text of the amendment," drafted by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), "the measure would allow states to apply for waivers to repeal one of ObamaCare’s core protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Conservatives argue the provision drives up premiums for healthy people, but Democrats—and many more moderate Republicans—warn it would spark a return to the days when insurance companies could charge sick people exorbitantly high premiums."
President Trump on Wednesday "will order a review of national monuments created over the past 20 years with an aim toward rescinding or resizing some of them—part of a broader push to reopen areas to drilling, mining, and other development." Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters on Tuesday said he'd be reviewing about 30 monuments.
"An emerging government funding deal would see Democrats agree to $15 billion in additional military funding in exchange for the GOP agreeing to fund healthcare subsidies, according to two congressional officials briefed on the talks. Facing a Friday deadline to pass a spending bill and avert a shutdown, Democrats are willing to go halfway to President Trump’s initial request of $30 billion in supplemental military funding."
The Michael Flynn story is not going away for the White House as it tries to refocus its attention. The White House has denied requests from the House Oversight Committee for information and documents regarding payments that the former national security adviser received from Russian state television station RT and Russian firms. House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz and ranking member Elijah Cummings also said that Flynn failed to report these payments on his security clearance application. White House legislative director Marc Short argued that the documents requested are either not in the possession of the White House or contain sensitive information he believes is not applicable to the committee's stated investigation.