The House of Representatives voted Wednesday night to do what became inevitable weeks ago: proceed with a lawsuit to sue President Obama over executive actions related to Obamacare. The vote was split along party lines, with nearly all Republicans voting in favor of pursuing the lawsuit and all Democrats opposed.
This is the first time either the House or Senate as an institution has brought a lawsuit against a president over enforcement of the law. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin did file a lawsuit challenging the president’s handling of congressional health benefits, but a federal judge last week dismissed that suit.
So what happens next? Now, it’s up to Speaker John Boehner and the House counsel for a “designation” of the action, meaning work will then begin with lawyers to finalize the language and legal direction of the lawsuit, deciding which arguments will have the best chances of success in court.
Approval of the eventual direction and filing of the lawsuit will not have to go before a vote of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), a process that had been previously set. The outcome of such a vote would likely not have changed the direction of the suit anyway. The BLAG is comprised of three Republican members of House leadership—the speaker, majority leader, and majority whip—and the two top leaders of the Democratic Caucus—the minority leader and whip.
The BLAG represented House Republicans in their effort to defend the Defense of Marriage Act before the Supreme Court, which was unsuccessful.
But a senior Democratic aide said Wednesday that the BLAG was “cut out” of the process of approving this lawsuit because “Republicans were worried about the optics of [Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi being involved.”
From there, a federal judge has to decide whether the House has legal standing in its case. That question has lawyers split. For the House to be able to act as a plaintiff in the case, it has to prove that it has in some way been harmed by the defendant—in this case, the president. Constitutional experts—several of whom have been called this month to testify at a hearing for each side—gave their own conflicting views of whether Boehner’s planned litigation could pass basic legal muster.
Republicans have so far declined Democrats’ demands to speculate on the potential monetary costs of the suit.
The suit itself is rooted in the Obama administration’s decision to delay the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate. Although it may seem bizarre for John Boehner to push a lawsuit because of a delay in Obamacare, House Republicans are using this as an example of executive overreach. As they see it, Obama overstepped his authority by delaying the mandate without turning to Congress, and as such is not faithfully executing the law.
Last July, the Obama administration delayed the employer mandate, which was supposed to take effect this year, until 2015. In February, the administration again delayed the mandate, pushing it back to 2016 for businesses with 50 to 99 full-time workers. The mandate is the requirement in the ACA that employers with 50 or more full-time employees provide health care or pay a fine.
What We're Following See More »
The national polls, once again, tell very different stories: Clinton leads by just one point in the IBD, Rasmussen, and LA Times tracking polls, while she shows a commanding 12 point lead in the ABC news poll and a smaller but sizable five point lead in the CNN poll. The Republican Remington Research Group released a slew of polls showing Trump up in Ohio, Nevada, and North Carolina, a tie in Florida, and Clinton leads in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia. However, an independent Siena poll shows Clinton up 7 in North Carolina, while a Monmouth poll shows Trump up one in Arizona
Since the release of the Access Hollywood tape, on which Donald Trump boasted of sexually assaulting women, "Senate Republicans have seen their fortunes dip, particularly in states like Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada and Pennsylvania," where Hillary Clinton now leads. Jennifer Duffy writes that she now expects Democrats to gain five to seven seats—enough to regain control of the chamber.
"Of the Senate seats in the Toss Up column, Trump only leads in Indiana and Missouri where both Republicans are running a few points behind him. ... History shows that races in the Toss Up column never split down the middle; one party tends to win the lion’s share of them."
"Some Republicans are running so far away from their party’s nominee that they are threatening to sue TV stations for running ads that suggest they support Donald Trump. Just two weeks before Election Day, five Republicans―Reps. Bob Dold (R-Ill.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), David Jolly (R-Fla.), John Katko (R-N.Y.) and Brian Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican running for an open seat that’s currently occupied by his brother―contend that certain commercials paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee provide false or misleading information by connecting them to the GOP nominee. Trump is so terrible, these Republicans are essentially arguing, that tying them to him amounts to defamation."
Former Illinois GOP Congressman Aaron Schock "recently agreed to pay a $10,000 fine for making an excessive solicitation for a super PAC that was active in his home state of Illinois four years ago." Schock resigned from Congress after a story about his Downton Abbey-themed congressional office raised questions about how he was using taxpayer dollars.