MacArthur Amendment Passed; Requires Congress to Use AHCA

On May 4, 2017, the House of Representatives, by a vote of 217 in favor to 213 opposed, passed H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act. Just minutes before that, a unanimous vote in favor of H.R. 2192, the MacArthur Amendment, passed that would undo the provision that members of Congress and their staffs were exempt from the AHCA, should it become law.

In everyday terms, H.R. 2192 seeks to stop the exemption that members of Congress and congressional staff members would have if the AHCA became law as it is written now. Rep. Martha McSally (R-Arizona) authored and introduced the two-page MacArthur Amendment, so named because it was Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-New Jersey) who wrote the exemption into the AHCA.

McSally explained her reasoning for introducing the MacArthur Amendment:

“I believe that any law we pass [that] applies to our constituents must also apply equally to members of Congress. Individuals who are stewards of public trust must abide by the rules that they make.”

It seems there was an actual need to write the exemption initially due to procedural rules in the Senate that required H.R. 1628 to be classified as a reconciliation bill so that a simple majority vote of 51 senators would be all that would be needed for passage instead of another type of bill that could result in a filibuster, necessitating 60 votes for passage.

Rep. MacArthur assured that the problem of Congress’ exemption from the AHCA would be addressed – and it was – actually being passed in the House of Representatives before the AHCA was put to a vote that day.

While the MacArthur Amendment doesn’t address any issues within the AHCA that those who oppose it have cited, if passed, it should quell the anger of those who question the hubris of elected officials who would say that the proposed AHCA is good enough for their constituents, but not good enough for them and their families.

Just like the AHCA, the MacArthur Amendment will have to pass the Senate before it can be considered by President Trump to sign into law – and unlike the AHCA, the MacArthur Amendment is subject to filibuster, however unlikely that would be.

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