As members of Congress point to problems with HealthCare.gov, lawmakers are scrambling and, in and some cases, sparking cries of hypocrisy over how they'll handle one piece of the Affordable Care Act under their control: whether their own staff members should be forced into the exchanges.
Members of Congress have until the end of the day on Thursday to make up their minds, and Democrats and Republicans are divided internally on the politically tricky issue.
"We just learned (Monday) that we have to make the decision this week," one House Republican leadership aide told CNN.
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., told CNN on Tuesday, "I'm not sure where we're at."
His staff was still unsure of his decision on Wednesday night.
Meantime, despite Democrats' defense of the ACA and Republican insistence that members of Congress and their staff should directly experience the law they passed, some powerful lawmakers plan to exempt their workers from the requirement that they enter the exchanges.
Example? House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa wants to keep his entire staff -- committee and personal office -- out of the exchanges, according to a House Republican aide familiar with his thinking.
The aide defended the idea as consistent, saying Issa believes that no American should have to enter the health care exchanges.
Interpreting the law
And if lawmakers do nothing by the deadline Thursday night, committee staff and leadership staff will be automatically exempted due to an interpretation by congressional administrators.
Part of the issue involves semantics and how Congress wrote the law.
The 2010 Affordable Care Act mandates that "members of Congress and congressional staff" must get health care through an ACA exchange.
But the Office of Personnel Management has ruled that it's up to individual members to designate which of their workers are "congressional staff."
Most assume a member's "personal" or district staff fit the definition. But there is a messy disagreement over what should happen with the more than 2,000 people who work for committees or leadership offices.
Some argue those workers aren't as directly tied to individual members. Others insist that argument is just a giant loophole for staffers who are nervous and want to avoid the exchanges.
But put aside the question of logic -- the bottom line is that each member of Congress can do what he or she wants.
Exempted by default
And if lawmakers don't act, many staffers will be exempted by default. An internal administrative policy provides that committee and leadership staff will be exempted from the exchange automatically, according to a Senate aide and an internal House email obtained by CNN.
The House email, sent by the chamber's chief administrative officer Monday, said that office is interpreting "congressional staff" to mean individuals who are paid from the members' individual office budgets, not leadership or committee funds. That gives some members their justification.
"The committees are exempted (from the exchange requirement)," Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, insisted to CNN.