House Votes to Move Forward on Lawsuit Against Obama

Now what?

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks during a ceremony to posthumously present the Congressional Gold Medal for to Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who saved the lives of nearly 100,000 Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, July 9, 2014.
National Journal
Matt Berman and Billy House
Add to Briefcase
Matt Berman and Billy House
July 30, 2014, 2:29 p.m.

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.

Sam Baker contributed to this article.
What We're Following See More »
TRUMP CANCELS FLORIDA TRIP
Congress Heads Back to Work to End Shutdown
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"The Senate was expected to be back in session at noon, while House lawmakers were told to return to work for a 9 a.m. session. Mr. Trump on Friday had canceled plans to travel to his private resort on Palm Beach, Fla., where a celebration had been planned for Saturday to celebrate the anniversary of his first year in office."

Source:
CLOTURE FAILS
Government Shutdown Begins, as Senate Balks at Stopgap
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"A stopgap spending bill stalled in the Senate Friday night, leading to a government shutdown for the first time since 2013. The continuing resolution funding agencies expired at midnight, and lawmakers were unable to spell out any path forward to keep government open. The Senate on Friday night failed to reach cloture on a four-week spending bill the House had already approved."

Source:
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS IN SUSPICIOUS CHECKS FLAGGED
Mueller’s Team Scrutinizing Russian Embassy Transactions
3 days ago
THE LATEST
PRO-TRUMP SPENDING COULD VIOLATE FECA
FBI Investigating Potential Russian Donations to NRA
3 days ago
THE DETAILS

"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.

Source:
DISCLOSURES MORE THAN DOUBLED
Mueller Investigation Leads to Hundreds of New FARA Filings
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"Hundreds of new and supplemental FARA filings by U.S. lobbyists and public relations firms" have been submitted "since Special Counsel Mueller charged two Trump aides with failing to disclose their lobbying work on behalf of foreign countries. The number of first-time filings ... rose 50 percent to 102 between 2016 and 2017, an NBC News analysis found. The number of supplemental filings, which include details about campaign donations, meetings and phone calls more than doubled from 618 to 1,244 last year as lobbyists scrambled to avoid the same fate as some of Trump's associates and their business partners."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login