Arguments to either dismiss or continue a case brought by U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson against the Obama administration challenging part of the Affordable Care Act  were made in court on Monday in Green Bay.
Johnson's attorney argued that President Barack Obama exceeded his authority when the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) extended federal health care subsidies for members of Congress and their staff members.
The court also heard from a federal Department of Justice Attorney arguing in favor of the OPM, who said Johnson must prove a “tangible injury.” U.S. Justice Department attorney James Luh said Johnson can't prove he or his staffers get any better or worse treatment under the law than anybody else.
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Johnson said the law will affect him and his 40 staffers in several ways. For one thing, he said that accepting the subsidies will force him to be complicit in “an unlawful scheme that we do not believe President Obama had the constitutional authority to enact.”
He also said that the OPM has put him in a position that alienates him from citizens.
“Americans hate it when elected officials or people in power are exempt from laws, where they're not in the exact same position,” said Johnson. “When they passed the Affordable Care Act, Congress explicitly made sure we were going to be in the exact same position. This OPM ruling does not allow me to be in that position.”
Johnson said he is also injured because he will have to explain to constituents why Congress gets “special treatment.”
“Only members of Congress and their staff have that special treatment of getting a pre-tax employer contribution to their exchange policies,” said Johnson. “It's unfair, it's unequal treatment — it should be overturned.”
U.S. District Judge William Griesbach said he will issue a decision on whether or not the case can proceed in “short order.”