Congressman Tim Griffin (R) says the Obama administration’s delay of an employer reporting mandate related to federal health care is a “welcome relief” for businesses, but he views the move as a political delay.
“I think it’s a recognition that there are problems with this law. I think also this is a political move,” Griffin said on Sunday morning’s Capitol View on KARK Ch. 4. “They wanted to take the implementation of the employer mandate and the penalties that go with it – they wanted to take that and kick it past the 2014 election. It’s pretty clear that’s what they’re doing.”
Griffin, who represents Arkansas’ Second Congressional District, says employers tell him they won’t be ready in 2015 either despite the administration’s one-year pause.
He also said that despite the Affordable Care Act being a “flawed law,” he thinks that the employer reporting requirement delay may not be something the Obama administration can push back without Congressional approval.
“The idea that the Congress passed a law and the President can just willy-nilly say, ‘I know the law said it’s due this day, but I’m going to push it off,’ – unless there’s something I’m missing, there’s a real legal problem there,” said Griffin.
On immigration reform, which has passed the U.S. Senate, Griffin said the House of Representatives is working on its own version.
“It will be a bunch of bills, but I confirmed the other day that we can collectively send them to conference,” said Griffin.
He contends the House bill will deal differently with border security, visas for high-tech workers, and a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
“I support a pathway to ‘legal status,'” said Griffin. “Once they are legal, those individuals, then they can get behind the people who have been here legally following the rules and they can pursue citizenship. I do not support an automatic guarantee or streamlining of the process separate from the people who are following the rules.”
MAYFLOWER OIL SPILL
Griffin said the months-old controversy surrounding the Mayflower oil spill from the Pegasus pipeline owned by ExxonMobil continues to be a top priority for his office staff.
He has had conversations with ExxonMobil officials about handling the after-effects of the pipeline rupture and the company’s dealings with area constituents.
In response to a question as to whether the Pegasus pipeline may be moved from the Lake Maumelle watershed, which serves hundreds of thousands of central Arkansas residents their drinking water, Griffin said not to expect immediate action.
“It’s going to be a long fight and we’re going to look at every option we’ve got to get it moved,” he said.
He is also worried that money given to displaced residents by ExxonMobil may create a tax burden on them and he’s prepared to file legislation to address the situation. Some residents affected by the pipeline rupture have received $10,000 from ExxonMobil to deal with immediate inconveniences, but Griffin notes that the IRS views this as income and it could be subject to major taxation.
“If you receive $10,000 and you have to pay $3,000, then you really didn’t receive $10,000,” Griffin said. He wants to find a way to make the residents whole in receiving a full $10,000 net of taxes.
DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT
Griffin also addressed the controversy surrounding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Two weeks ago, the court ruled 5-4 that DOMA violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. In a second case, the court paved the way for legalizing same-sex marriage in California, but it stopped short of declaring a nationwide right to same-sex marriage and left the issue for states to determine.
Griffin said he’s unaware of any Congressional action to deal with the high court’s ruling.
“I haven’t heard anybody talk about a replacement bill,” he said. “I’d like to remind folks that the state laws remain in place, unaffected.”
Arkansas voters have passed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. In the last two weeks, a same-sex couple has challenged the state’s law and a citizen’s group has formed to push for a repeal of Arkansas’ current amendment.
You can watch Griffin’s full interview below.