The Hill

Coburn puts hold on OPM nominee

Sen. Tom Coburn

Sen. Tom Coburn wants answers on health care reform before allowing a vote on Obama's nominee to head OPM.

Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn said he will block a quick confirmation vote on the nomination of Katherine Archuleta to lead the Office of Personnel Management pending answers from the Obama administration on the status of legislative staffers under the 2010 health care law.

Archuleta's nomination was approved on a party-line 6-4 vote July 31 by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. But floor consideration will likely be stalled until Coburn releases his hold.

"There's no reason we should vote on this position until we know what the administration's position is for our employees' health insurance starting Oct. 1," Coburn said at the committee vote.

At issue is whether staffers will have to move from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to health care exchanges created under a provision of the 2010 law that covers members of Congress and congressional employees, and if Congress will be permitted to make contributions to defray the premium costs of employees. Coburn said his request to find out the coverage status of staffers was bounced from OPM to the Office of Management and Budget and back again.

"Hopefully [Coburn will] get the information very soon, and we can move forward with her nomination and confirmation," said Montana Democrat Jon Tester.

The committee also approved the nomination of John Thompson to lead the Census Bureau as well as a number of bills, including legislation to make it easier for agencies to sell unneeded property, a measure that would grant all federal agencies access to the Social Security Administration's complete Death Master File database to scrub deceased individuals from federal payment and annuity rolls, and a bill to permit OPM's inspector general to audit the revolving fund used to conduct security clearance investigations.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

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Reader comments

Thu, Aug 1, 2013

It is extremely frustrating what some have to do in order to get proper answers and to attempt to get parts of the Government to operate fully within the law. I wish that senators would not resort to these tactics, but agree that there are time like this that they are needed.

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