Obamacare Employer Mandate Delay Questioned by House Labor Committee

House GOP calls OMB regulation chief in to testify

July 15, 2013

The House labor committee sent a letter to Office of Management and Budget’s regulation chief Howard Shelanski on Friday requesting his presence at a committee meeting Tuesday July 23 to explain the Obama administration’s delay of the employer mandate.

"The administration’s unilateral delay of the employer mandate has created a host of new questions and concerns that need to be addressed," the letter states. "As a senior leader at the Office of Management and Budget, you are uniquely qualified to respond to questions regarding the decision-making process that led to the unilateral delay of the employer mandate."

The Obamacare mandate requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance to all workers or face stiff fines. The mandate was set to go into effect in 2014, but the administration earlier this month pushed the start date back to 2015.

However, the mandate that all individuals purchase health insurance remains in place. House Republicans will vote on a proposal this week to delay the individual mandate, as well.

Republicans accused President Barack Obama of playing politics with the economy ahead of the 2014 election.

"In an attempt to push the most economically crushing and burdensome regulations past the 2014 election, President Obama decided he had the authority to waive the employer mandate because he knows that it's a political liability," Sen. Mike Enzi (R., Wyo.) said in Saturday’s weekly Republican address.

Many large companies have begun cutting hours and employing more part-time workers to avoid the mandate. Nearly 28 million employees worked part-time in June—a record high, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of those people, 8.2 million were "involuntary" part-time workers, an increase of 322,000 from May.

Rep. Phil Roe (R., Tenn.), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions subcommittee, and Rep. Tim Walberg (R., Mich.), chairman of the workplace protections subcommittee, said that Shelanski’s testimony would shed light on the role that political considerations had on the administration’s decision.

"The Obama administration continues to enact sweeping changes to federal law behind closed doors," they said in a joint statement. "The unilateral delay of the employer mandate is just the latest example and further confirmation the health care law is fatally flawed. As Republicans work to ensure all Americans receive permanent relief from Obamacare, we will also get the facts on the president’s decision to delay a major part of his health care law."

Shelanski, who was confirmed to the post in June, has yet to reply to the invitation, according to the committee. OMB did not return requests for comment.

The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday July 23 at 10 a.m.