Senators Consider Association Health Plan Amendment
Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) on Wednesday said they might introduce an amendment to a minimum wage bill that would allow small businesses to form association health plans across state lines, CongressDaily reports.
Thune said he and Vitter hope to receive a vote on the amendment but added, "We're getting some pushback" from Senate Republican leaders.
According to Senate aides familiar with the discussions, Sen. Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), who plans to introduce an AHP bill with Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), has asked Vitter and Thune not to introduce the amendment, a move that could endanger passage of their legislation.
Nelson said that he would not support the amendment. He said, "I want to see a minimum wage bill come out in a clean fashion," adding, "I've withheld pushing to introduce our bill" as an amendment to the legislation.
Senate Democratic leaders have said that on Friday they will file a cloture motion to end debate on the minimum wage bill. Passage of the cloture motion would result in a Senate floor vote on the minimum wage bill on Tuesday.
Vitter said that he would oppose the cloture motion on the minimum wage bill until he and Thune receive a vote on their amendment. He said, "It's not germane, so it would involve opposing cloture until we get a vote. That's certainly my position."
According to CongressDaily, in the event that Vitter and Thune receive a vote on their amendment, the measure "would probably fail on the floor because most Democrats oppose it," and some Democrats have said that "forcing the AHP issue as part of the minimum wage debate would be considered a hostile, partisan act" (Johnson, CongressDaily, 1/25).