Rubio: Delay Obamacare’s Individual Mandate Until Exchanges Properly Running

'If we begin to argue around here that once something is existing law it can never be changed, we might as well close up shop because that's what we do'

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Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday about his proposed legislation to delay Obamacare’s individual mandate until the health exchanges are properly running.

“The only thing it says is that you can not enforce the individual mandate, that you cannot tell people next year that we will find you, that the IRS is going to impose a fine on you,” he said. “You will not be able to do that until the website is fully working. In terms of this preventing people from getting health insurance, that’s simply not accurate. This doesn’t prevent anyone from going on to the website and signing up.”

After Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) called Rubio’s actions “inappropriate” for trying to affect an existing law, Rubio rebuked him by pointing out the business of legislating was almost always to change existing laws.

“If we begin to argue around here that once something is existing law it can never be changed, we might as well close up shop because that’s what we do,” Rubio said. “That’s what the legislative process is about.”

Glitches and delays have plagued the Obamacare online exchanges since they went live Oct. 1, with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius apologizing in her testimony about the launch Wednesday for the “miserably frustrating” ordeal it had been.

Rubio concluded his remarks by saying that if the administration kept its promise that Obamacare’s website would be fully functional by Nov. 30, there would be no reason to oppose his legislation.

“If in fact you are so confident that the websites are going to be up and running by the end of November, this problem will be taken care of,” Rubio said. “If in fact you are right and the websites are going to be up and running by the end of November, then the mandate will be back in effect. The only thing my bill does is says as long as the website is not working and until it is working, you cannot enforce the Obamacare mandates on people through a fine from the IRS.”

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