Senate Confirms Personnel Chief Over Republican Opposition

Some Republicans voted against nomination to protest subsidies for congressional staff under Obamacare.

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Katherine Archuleta to head the Office of Personnel Management, overcoming Republican opposition to the nomination related to treatment of congressional staff under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

The chamber approved Archuleta 62-35, in what The Washington Post reported was the first recorded vote on an OPM director nominee in the agency’s history. Some Republicans voted against the nomination to express their objection to rules that allow Capitol Hill offices to contribute toward health insurance premiums for their employees, who are required to drop their coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and join the insurance exchanges established under Obamacare.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., had placed a hold on Archuleta’s nomination during the summer over the health care issue, but released that hold once OPM released more information on how the Affordable Care Act would affect congressional offices.

Archuleta served on President Obama’s campaign, and in various agency positions including as chief of staff to former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. Archuleta will replace John Berry, who left OPM in April when his term expired. Agency general counsel Elaine Kaplan has been leading OPM on an acting basis.