By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R) from Alabama told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday that the Senate should not fund Obamacare which Sen. Sessions said has had a string of recent failures. Sen. Sessions issued his statement at a full committee markup of the fiscal year 2014 Appropriations Bills for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, and the Legislative Branch.
Senator Shelby said, “The bills we are marking up today will fund several areas of government that deserve our support, such as the National Institutes of Health, math and science education, and the Government Accountability Office. But, I have serious concerns regarding certain aspects of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education bill. First, it takes a big step down a spending path that I have previously described as a statutory dead end. At $164 billion, the Labor-HHS bill alone would represent 35 percent of the statutory cap of $469 billion for non-defense discretionary spending. It would leave only about $145 billion under the cap to fund the remaining five appropriations bills that are largely non-defense. Such a path will only lead to a sequester under current law.”
Sen. Shelby said, “Second, in general, I am concerned that the Labor-HHS bill spends at a level that is fiscally imprudent. It is about $7.5 billion higher than even last year’s pre-sequester level. Third, disappointingly, the bill enables further implementation of the Affordable Care Act. It increases funding for the health care exchanges by $1.4 billion, which was not provided in the 2013 C.R.”
Sen. Sessions said in his statement, “This increase has been included despite recent failures of key components of the Affordable Care Act. As it disclosed last week, the Administration will delay the employer mandate due to the burdens it places on businesses. Although the delay is good news, it does raise questions about the viability of the law. The Administration has also announced that it will not be able to verify certain data needed to determine eligibility for individual health insurance subsidies. This could mean that many people will receive subsidies who don’t qualify. The Labor-HHS bill should not fund the failures of Obamacare.”
Sen. Shelby acknowledged that the debate on these issues will continue he hoped that the Senate can work together to make necessary changes. Shelby said, “I am also still hopeful that this Committee will eventually adhere to the discretionary spending levels required by the law. Thank you.”
50 conservative Senators sent a letter to the President asking him to indefinitely suspend the individual mandate that is part of Obamacare. Many legal scholars question if the President even has the authority to suspend the business mandate in the bill, which has a firm start date of January 1, 2014.
Sen. Shelby is the Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.