Published Monday, Sept. 30, 2013 | 7:10 p.m.
Updated Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 | 12:10 a.m.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been calling on Republicans to buck the party line and vote to keep the government funded.
But in the Nevada delegation, it was Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford who broke ranks and decided to vote for the Republican version of a funding bill Monday night that would delay the individual mandate for one year and take away subsidies for members of congress and their staffers going on the exchanges.
Horsford was one of only nine Democrats to vote for the Republican-sponsored bill — a figure that includes the House’s most conservative Democrats.
But as Horsford explained it, he took the vote not because he doesn’t believe in the overall health care law, but because he felt compelled to take a stand for his constituents, many of whom will suffer from holes in the Democrat-backed legislation.
“I vote for an amendment to the continuing resolution tonight because I’m calling for fairness for those Americans who receive their health care through self-insured employer plans,” Horsford said in a statement released after the vote. “In my home state, hundreds of thousands of Nevadans would be penalized because they are not eligible for tax credits as they receive health care through insurance plans from gaming, construction, and small-business employers.”
Individuals who receive insurance through self-insured, multi-employer plans are not eligibile for tax credits as the law is currently written.
Employees belonging to the Culinary Union fall into that category. Horsford used to oversee the Culinary's training academy.
“There’s a whole host of workers in Nevada, hundreds of thousands, who would be affected,” Horsford spokesman Tim Hogan said. “They would not be eligible for those tax credits.”
The vote, on its surface, is surprising coming from Horsford, who has been a vocal supporter of the health care act.
Prior to that point, Horsford had voted against all of the House’s short-term budgeting proposals, each of which attempted to defund or delay Obamacare. The latest bill would delay the individual mandate under Obamacare by one year.
But Horsford appears to have supported the House’s latest version of the budget resolution because the bill also included an instruction to end lawmakers’ subsidies for purchasing health care on the exchange — which, as Horsford argued, many of his constituents won’t get.
“It’s a poison pill game that’s being played right now,” Hogan continued. “It’s not that he’s against the opening of the exchanges … it’s just that those specific plans would not be eligible for tax credits.”
“I do not support delaying the implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” Horsford said in a statement released after the vote.
Horsford’s vote was largely symbolic, as it cannot actually change the fate of Culinary workers or any others who receive their insurance through a Taft-Hartley plan. Union chiefs welcomed it nonetheless.
“Congressman Horsford voted on principle,” said D. Taylor, president of UNITE HERE, the parent organization of Culinary Local 226. “As a leader, he believes congressional staff should not be treated differently than housekeepers, kitchen workers, or the rest of the American people.”
The Culinary Union is continuing to urge members of Congress and the Obama administration to change the health care law so that individuals in plans like those covering their members will be able to access insurance subsidies on the exchanges.
Horsford’s support for their cause does not, however, appear to be an issue on which he is prepared to leverage his support for the health care law any further than that one Monday evening vote.
Early Tuesday morning, the House took an effective second vote on the measure, doubling down on their proffer and asking the Senate lawmakers to meet with House lawmakers in conference to hash out the differences — negotiations Reid said he would not enter into unless the House passed a measure to fund the government for the next six weeks that doesn’t touch Obamacare.
Horsford voted against it, over concerns with the process.