Last week, Michael Hash, who leads the HHS Office of Health Reform, joined House Democrats at their weekly meeting to discuss the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. It was the first detailed policy briefing for lawmakers since the open-enrollment period began. Republicans were outraged – why should one party get a briefing and not the other?
The truth, however, was less scandalous. The Obama administration had offered House Republicans the opportunity to receive an identical briefing, but GOP leaders ignored the offer. The White House had made the information available to both sides, but only one side was interested.
But in light of the bizarre whining, the administration once again offered House Republicans the same policy briefing made available to House Democrats, and this time, GOP leaders accepted the offer.
Well, sort of.
For all their fury, most of the House Republicans who had demanded their own closed-door briefing from the administration on President Barack Obama’s struggling health care rollout were no-shows on Wednesday.Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) told reporters that “about 20 members” attended the House GOP briefing, at which senior Health and Human Services Department official Mike Hash laid out some of the issues facing the Healthcare.gov website.
So let me get this straight. House Republicans were offered a policy briefing on health care, and they ignored it. Those same House Republicans then were furious about failing to receive the briefing they said they didn’t want. Finally, when the briefing was rescheduled to make the GOP happy, more than 90% of House Republicans didn’t bother to show up for the information they demanded.
Why insist on a closed-door briefing and then blow if off? Because Republicans didn’t really care about receiving the information; they really only wanted to complain for the sake of complaining, hoping to generate a few headlines that gave the false impression that the Obama administration was being unfair.
It reminds me quite a bit of an incident from last November, when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) hosted a press conference to demand an administration briefing on Benghazi. A briefing was underway at the time, and McCain didn’t bother to attend.
The moral of the story: if the information you’re demanding is being made available to you, try to make an effort to show up.
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GOP demands healthcare briefing, fails to show up