Earlier today, I spoke with Rep. Marsha Blackburn at CPAC, who finds herself at the center of three key policy issues on Capitol Hill. Blackburn was preparing to grill HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell later in the day about the rolling disasters of ObamaCare, especially the tax bombs that will shortly go off on millions of Americans. The problem, as we discuss, stems from the fact that HHS couldn’t build the website properly even spending $400 million or more — and still hasn’t fixed the problem on the back end, which means that we will be seeing the same thing happen next year. Burwell responded to a letter from Blackburn claiming that no one would be able to afford insurance without the subsidies, but a lot of those people may discover that they can’t afford the subsidies themselves this tax season.
Blackburn also discussed the FCC’s Net Neutrality regulations, which commissioners passed earlier today. Blackburn scoffed at the way they kept the proposal “under lock and key” until today’s vote, and talked about how she demanded answers about secret meetings at the White House over the proposal. Three years ago, Blackburn pushed specific language in the House that prevents the FCC from taking this step, and she notes that the Verizon decision at the Supreme Court should also prevent the FCC from moving forward. Today will be “the day the ObamaNet was born.”
Finally, we also discussed the fight over DHS funding, a topic which clearly frustrates Blackburn. All McConnell needs to do, Blackburn says, is to put the House bill on the floor and allow Democrats to offer amendments. I asked Blackburn why McConnell isn’t trying to use the “reconciliation” process, which Democrats used to pass ObamaCare, on what is even more clearly a budgetary issue, and Blackburn seems equally mystified by that. Blackburn also produced the language in the House bill that blocks executive amnesty, and she says House conservatives are determined to keep that language in the DHS funding bill that goes to Obama. Meanwhile, Blackburn wants Senate Republicans to stand up to Obama and Harry Reid. “We did our work in the House,” Blackburn tells me about DHS funding, “not once but twice.”