The Hill reports on three bills that will be voted in the House under the suspension of rules. Suspending the rules requires a 2/3rds vote for a bill to pass the House. Normally, I would not write about minor house keeping bills, but something interesting is in all three of the bills:
One bill dealing with religious exemptions under the healthcare law seems sure to pass: the Equitable Access to Care and Health (EACH) Act, H.R. 1814. This bill from, Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), has 216 co-sponsors, including 78 Democrats, so a two-thirds majority seems to be in reach.
The legislation would create a new exemption under ObamaCare that lets people avoid buying health insurance if they have a religious reason for doing so. The bill would require these people to file an affidavit as part of their tax returns saying their beliefs keep them from buying insurance that meets federal standards…..
I have no problem with this tweak. The Amish and others have long been exempt from social insurance taxes and mandates.
Another bill with broad bipartisan support is the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act, H.R. 3979. This bill would ensure that volunteer emergency responders are not required to be offered health insurance under the law.
This is a clarification. I don’t think it is needed due to current IRS rule-making excludes volunteer first responders from any employee counts and employer obligations, but a minor clarification as law instead of regulation is a legitimate use of Congressional power in a potential gray area.
The third suspension bill is the Hire More Heroes Act, H.R. 3474. It would create an incentive for companies to hire veterans, since veteran workers already covered by the federal veterans health program would not have to be counted as a full-time employee for the purposes of ObamaCare.
This is a minor tweak that will affect almost no one. It basically is a subsidy of up to $2,000 for a selected class of veterans to be hired at companies that are just over the 50 employee threshold. The subsidy won’t apply to small companies as they are not covered by the employer mandate, nor will it matter at some place like General Electric. But for small companies, it is a minor nudge to hire a veteran with VA health coverage than anyone else.
As I see it, two bills are at best minor clarifications of a gray area, and the third is a minor indirect subsidy to veterans’ employment. None of them are inherently a big deal. However the big fucking deal is that the House is acting like a typical House now. It is cleaning up previously passed laws, making minor tweaks to clarify Congressional intent and sending minor goodies to politically favored groups. They are acting normal, and that has been abnormal for the past three years.