| WASHINGTON, July 3
WASHINGTON, July 3 Republicans launched a fresh
assault on "Obamacare" Wednesday, promising a congressional
investigation after the White House delayed a requirement for
employer-provided health insurance until after the 2014
Criticism was not confined to Republicans. The AFL-CIO labor
organization, a supporter of the health care law, issued a
statement asking that its own requests for changes be given the
same consideration the White House has extended to employers.
That raised the prospect of numerous interest groups
seeking to reopen previously settled disputes over the 2010 law.
A brief White House response came from Deputy Press Secretary
Josh Earnest, who said the delay "should inspire confidence." It
"demonstrates our willingness to work with the business
The criticisms complicate White House efforts to convince
millions of Americans to sign up for coverage under President
Barack Obama's signature domestic policy initiative.
A committee of the Republican-controlled House of
Representatives wrote top administration officials, including
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, demanding to know why lawmakers
were not informed sooner that the administration was considering
delaying a requirement for employer provided health insurance.
"Despite delays and missed deadlines, administration
officials had repeatedly testified before Congress that they
were still on schedule to implement the law," said
Representative Fred Upton, chairman of the House Energy and
Whether the investigation sheds light on the decision, it
promises to prolong negative publicity about the law less than
six months before it is to be rolled out.
In postponing the employer mandate on Tuesday, Upton said in
a statement, the administration "admitted that wasn't the case,
and it's clear we have no idea the full scope of delays and
disarray that may be coming."
Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican and leading
critic of the health law, accused the administration of carrying
out a "cynical ploy" with postponement of the employer mandate.
"The public already lacks confidence in the law and it seems
that now the administration is finally admitting that this law
is unworkable, unaffordable and continues to be very unpopular,"
Since Obama won reelection in 2012 after a campaign in which
the health law was a major issue, Republicans have sought new
ammunition to undermine Obamacare. Democrats have blocked more
than 30 Republican efforts to repeal all or part of the law.
Among Obama's supporters, the AFL-CIO labor organization, a
staunch ally of the Democratic president, said it found the
decision to postpone employer provided coverage "troubling."
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka complained that the White
House showed willingness to provide flexibility for the business
community while reluctant to make changes sought by labor.
He said he would press his concerns and hoped "the
administration will address" them "just as they have the
concerns voiced by employers."
(Additional reporting by Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton.
Editing by Fred Barbash and David Gregorio)