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A warning by President Donald Trump that he might cut off congressional members’ health benefits in an effort to force them back to the bargaining table on health care has drawn a lot of attention—and some questions. We have answers.


How could he do that?

Proponents of the move suggest Mr. Trump undo a rule crafted by the Office of Personnel Management in 2013 that allowed members of Congress and their aides to keep longstanding premium contributions by their employer—that is, the federal government. Without the payments, lawmakers would have to pay their full premiums, instead of the roughly 25% they pay now.


Is this a new issue?

Not at all. The assertion that members of Congress should be willing to “eat their own cooking” is probably as old as that phrase. Lawmakers have debated for years whether preserving an existing benefit constitutes special treatment. The issue bubbled up again in the recent debate over the GOP health-care legislation. ACA supporters seized on claims that Republican lawmakers were seeking to exempt themselves from their new bill, but the changes mulled by Republicans wouldn’t likely have affected them one way or the other.