January 9, 2014:
The House advanced two ObamaCare oversight bills on Thursday, along with legislation aimed at creating more flexibility on solid-waste disposal regulations at the Environmental Protection Agency.
Members approved a rule governing debate and votes on the three bills, in a 223-186 vote. Votes on all three bills are expected by Friday.
One ObamaCare bill, H.R. 3811, would require the government to report each week on the implementation of the healthcare law, including details on how many people are using the website and remaining technical problems the site has. The other, H.R. 3362, would require the government to tell people if their personal information has been compromised on HealthCare.gov.
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) said these changes are needed to ensure people have enough information about how the site is working, given the possibility of data breaches and that millions of people will be forced to buy a plan through ObamaCare.
“These flaws continue to pose a threat to the security of Americans’ personal data,” he said of the website.
“We spent hundreds of millions of dollars, taxpayer dollars. The American people deserve to know that their personal information is protected, and to be notified if that protection lapses.”
Democrats argued that the bill would only slow down implementation of the law. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) said it would create new paperwork requirements that would make it harder for officials to make sure the law is working properly.
“It’s almost as if this bill was designed to make the website work worse,” he said.
The rule also covers H.R. 2279, the Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act. Among other things, this bill would allow the EPA to review solid waste disposal regulations when it wants, instead of requiring a review every three years, and it would also give states more flexibility to use their own rules for solid waste disposal.
The rule allows two Democratic amendments to be considered but no amendments on the two healthcare bills. That led to Democratic complaints during rule debate that the GOP wasn’t allowing open consideration of legislation on the floor.
After the rule vote, the House was expected to debate and vote on the EPA bill and save the healthcare bills until Friday.
Democrats spent much of the debate calling on the House to consider a bill extending emergency unemployment benefits for three months, but the GOP House rejected that attempt. Senate leaders have said they are working on a one-year extension that is paid for, something that could come up there this week.