John Boehner Will Initiate a Lawsuit Against President Obama

Executive actions would be at the heart of the action.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (C), R-OH and National Security Advisor Susan Rice listen as US President Barack Obama delivers a statement on Syria during a meeting with members of Congress at the White House in Washington, DC, September 3, 2013.
National Journal
Elahe Izadi
See more stories about...
Elahe Izadi
June 25, 2014, 9:24 a.m.

House Speak­er John Boehner told re­port­ers Wed­nes­day that he’s plan­ning to start a law­suit against Pres­id­ent Obama and his ad­min­is­tra­tion over the White House’s use of ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tions.

“The Con­sti­tu­tion makes it clear that it’s the pres­id­ent’s job to faith­fully ex­ecute the laws, and, in my view, the pres­id­ent hasn’t faith­fully ex­ecuted the laws,” Boehner said.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 5047) }}

News that Boehner was con­sid­er­ing a law­suit was first re­por­ted by Roll Call on Tues­day. The speak­er de­clined to elab­or­ate which par­tic­u­lar ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tions would be at the heart of such a law­suit, say­ing, “When I make that de­cision, I’ll let you know.”

A num­ber of House Re­pub­lic­ans have been call­ing for such a move over what they deem are im­peach­able of­fenses. When asked wheth­er this law­suit could lead to im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings, Boehner said, “This is not about im­peach­ment.”

Boehner cir­cu­lated a memo to House col­leagues on Wed­nes­day ex­plain­ing his reas­on­ing. “On one mat­ter after an­oth­er dur­ing his pres­id­ency, Pres­id­ent Obama has cir­cum­ven­ted the Con­gress through ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tion, cre­at­ing his own laws and ex­cus­ing him­self from ex­ecut­ing stat­utes he is sworn to en­force ““ at times even boast­ing about his will­ing­ness to do it, as if dar­ing the Amer­ica people to stop him,” he wrote.

In the let­ter, the speak­er wrote that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tions could cre­ate a pre­ced­ent that would shift “the bal­ance of power de­cis­ively and dan­ger­ously in fa­vor of the pres­id­ency, giv­ing the pres­id­ent king-like au­thor­ity at the ex­pense of the Amer­ic­an people and their elec­ted le­gis­lat­ors.”

For months, Re­pub­lic­ans have been crit­ic­al of the pres­id­ent’s ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tions on everything from tweak­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act im­ple­ment­a­tion to im­mig­ra­tion, such as De­ferred Ac­tion of Child­hood Ar­rivals.

This year, the pres­id­ent prom­ised to de­vote more at­ten­tion to ac­tions the ex­ec­ut­ive branch can take without Con­gress. Obama has also been un­der pres­sure from the left on de­port­a­tions, which led the pres­id­ent to dir­ect Home­land Se­cur­ity Sec­ret­ary Jeh John­son to ini­ti­ate a re­view and po­ten­tial changes to the way the ad­min­is­tra­tion en­forces de­port­a­tion policy to make it more “hu­mane.” Res­ults of that re­view are ex­pec­ted after Au­gust.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion had like­wise been pres­sured by LGBT ad­voc­ates to take ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tion re­lated to the Em­ploy­ment Non-Dis­crim­in­a­tion Act, in light of in­ac­tion from Con­gress, that would ap­ply to fed­er­al con­tract­ors. Obama ended up sign­ing such an ex­ec­ut­ive or­der this month.

Boehner plans on bring­ing le­gis­la­tion to the floor in Ju­ly that would au­thor­ize the House, via the House Gen­er­al Coun­sel and the Bi­par­tis­an Leg­al Ad­vis­ory Group, to file a suit “in an ef­fort to com­pel the pres­id­ent to fol­low his oath of of­fice and faith­fully ex­ecute the laws of our coun­try.” BLAG rules by ma­jor­ity vote and is com­prised of the speak­er, the House ma­jor­ity and minor­ity lead­ers, and the ma­jor­ity and minor­ity whips (mean­ing, three Re­pub­lic­ans and two Demo­crats). That’s the same group the Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship used to (un­suc­cess­fully) de­fend the De­fense of Mar­riage Act, for a price tag of $2.3 mil­lion.

House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi called this latest ef­fort by Boehner “sub­ter­fuge” and cri­ti­cized Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship for spend­ing money to de­fend DOMA.

“They knew it was un­con­sti­tu­tion­al. But they were do­ing their polit­ics and they were spend­ing the tax­pay­ers’ money, a waste,” Pelosi said. “And here we go again.

This story has been up­dated with in­form­a­tion from Speak­er Boehner’s memo. A pre­vi­ous ver­sion of this story also mis­stated a pri­or BLAG ac­tion.

What We're Following See More »
GOP Budget Chiefs Won’t Invite Administration to Testify
1 days ago

The administration will release its 2017 budget blueprint tomorrow, but the House and Senate budget committees won’t be inviting anyone from the White House to come talk about it. “The chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees released a joint statement saying it simply wasn’t worth their time” to hear from OMB Director Shaun Donovan. Accusing the members of pulling a “Donald Trump,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the move “raises some questions about how confident they are about the kinds of arguments that they could make.”

Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
23 hours ago

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
18 hours ago

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.

Trump Is Still Ahead, but Who’s in Second?
5 hours ago

We may not be talking about New Hampshire primary polls for another three-and-a-half years, so here goes:

  • American Research Group’s tracking poll has Donald Trump in the lead with 30% support, followed by Marco Rubio and John Kasich tying for second place at 16%. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton 53%-41%.
  • The 7 News/UMass Lowell tracking poll has Trump way out front with 34%, followed by Rubio and Ted Cruz with 13% apiece. Among the Democrats, Sanders is in front 56%-40%.
  • A Gravis poll puts Trump ahead with 28%, followed by Kasich with 17% and Rubio with 15%.