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 »
DISCUSSES "IMPORTANCE OF THE PARTNERSHIP"
Mnuchin Meets with MBS
8 hours ago
THE LATEST
EXPECTED TO SAY U.S. IS WITHDRAWING FROM TREATY
Bolton Lands in Russia for Talks
10 hours ago
THE LATEST
SHE IS HAVING MEMORY ISSUES
Sandra O'Connor Stepping Back From Public Life
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court has stepped back from public life. ...She last made public appearances over two years ago. This summer she turned over an office she had kept at the Supreme Court to the court’s most recently retired justice, Anthony Kennedy. Her son Jay O’Connor said in a telephone interview that his mother began to have challenges with her short-term memory. That made some public events more difficult. He says she now stays close to her Phoenix home."

SAYS HIS DEATH STEMMED FROM A FISTFIGHT
Saudis Admit Khashoggi Killed in Embassy
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"Saudi Arabia said Saturday that Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Saudi journalist who disappeared more than two weeks ago, had died after an argument and fistfight with unidentified men inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Eighteen men have been arrested and are being investigated in the case, Saudi state-run media reported without identifying any of them. State media also reported that Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, the deputy director of Saudi intelligence, and other high-ranking intelligence officials had been dismissed."

Source:
ROGER STONE IN THE CROSSHAIRS?
Mueller Looking into Ties Between WikiLeaks, Conservative Groups
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is scrutinizing how a collection of activists and pundits intersected with WikiLeaks, the website that U.S. officials say was the primary conduit for publishing materials stolen by Russia, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Mueller’s team has recently questioned witnesses about the activities of longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone, including his contacts with WikiLeaks, and has obtained telephone records, according to the people familiar with the matter."

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