Late last week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced plans to sue President Obama over delays in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
According to reports, the lawsuit will challenge the president’s decision to delay imposing penalties on employers with 50 or more workers who do not offer health insurance to their employees. According to Boehner, the decision to delay until 2016 the employer mandate was a change in the Affordable Care Act that required congressional approval. But by delaying the implementation of that portion of the law by executive order, the lawsuit alleges, the president “unilaterally” changed the law. That delay, Boehner claims, was an abuse of executive power. “The current president believes he has the power to make his own laws—at times even boasting about it,” Boehner said in a statement announcing plans of the lawsuit. “He has said that if Congress won’t make the laws he wants, he’ll go ahead and make them himself, and in the case of the employer mandate in his health care law, that’s exactly what he did.”
“The Constitution states that the president must faithfully execute the laws and spells out that only the Legislative Branch has the power to legislate,” Boehner’s statement continued. “If this president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well. The House has an obligation to stand up for the legislative branch, and the Constitution, and that is exactly what we will do.”
House Democrats have brushed off the lawsuit as political theater. “This lawsuit is just another distraction from House Republicans desperate to distract the American people from their own spectacular obstruction and dysfunction,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said in a statement.
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The Constitution does not directly authorize the kind of lawsuit contemplated by Boehner; instead, one must be approved via the legislative process. House Committee on Rules Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) released a draft resolution last week that authorizes the House to move forward with the lawsuit. As reported by Politico, the committee has scheduled a hearing on the resolution for Wednesday, which will feature Republican-selected witnesses to testify on the merits of the proposed lawsuit. The committee will then hold a mark-up of the actual resolution, with a vote on the resolution by the end of July. Assuming the resolution passes the House, Boeher will be authorized to then file the lawsuit in federal court, which means arguments on the merits of the lawsuit will take place in the fall ahead of midterm elections, when Republicans hope to hold on to control of the Republican-dominated House and take control of the Senate.