John Boehner Defends His Plans for Suing Obama

Democrats call it an election-year ploy.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 11: U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) walks to his office at the U.S Capitol in Washington, DC June 11, 2014 in Washington, DC. Yesterday House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) lost his Virginia primary to Tea Party challenger Dave Brat. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
National Journal
Billy House
July 6, 2014, 7:54 a.m.

House Speak­er John Boehner is de­fend­ing his plans to sue Pres­id­ent Obama later this month over ex­ec­ut­ive power, say­ing he is stand­ing up for the le­gis­lat­ive branch of gov­ern­ment and the Con­sti­tu­tion.

“In the end, the Con­sti­tu­tion makes it clear that the Pres­id­ent’s job is to faith­fully ex­ecute the laws,” writes Boehner, in an op-ed ap­pear­ing Sunday on the CNN web­site. “And, in my view, the Pres­id­ent has not faith­fully ex­ecuted the laws when it comes to a range of is­sues, in­clud­ing his health care law, en­ergy reg­u­la­tions, for­eign policy and edu­ca­tion.”

Boehner as­serts that over the last five years, “the Pres­id­ent has cir­cum­ven­ted the Amer­ic­an people and their elec­ted rep­res­ent­at­ives through ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tion, chan­ging and cre­at­ing his own laws, and ex­cus­ing him­self from en­for­cing stat­utes he is sworn to up­hold — at times even boast­ing about his will­ing­ness to do it, as if dar­ing the Amer­ic­an people to stop him.”

Over that time, Re­pub­lic­ans have pro­tested such ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tions as re­cess ap­point­ments and en­vir­on­ment­al reg­u­la­tions.

As a res­ult, Boehner says that, later this month, “We will bring le­gis­la­tion to the House floor that would au­thor­ize the House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives to file suit in an ef­fort to com­pel Pres­id­ent Obama to fol­low his oath of of­fice and faith­fully ex­ecute the laws of our coun­try.”

Obama has said he has been act­ing on be­half of the middle-class, be­cause Re­pub­lic­ans in Con­gress are do­ing “noth­ing.” He said late last month, “f Con­gress were to do its job and pass the le­gis­la­tion I’ve dir­ec­ted them to pass I wouldn’t be forced to take mat­ters in­to my own hands.”

And ap­pear­ing Sunday on CNN’s State of the Uni­on pan­el, Demo­crat­ic Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee Com­mu­nic­a­tions Dir­ect­or Mo El­leithee re­spon­ded to the threatened Boehner law­suit by cast­ing it more as a mid-term elec­tion year man­euver in­ten­ded to ex­cite and turn out GOP base voters on Nov. 4.

“That’s all that is, wheth­er it is yet an­oth­er vote to re­peal the Af­ford­able Care Act, wheth­er it is yet an­oth­er hear­ing on Benghazi, wheth­er it is now su­ing the Pres­id­ent and some Mem­bers of Con­gress talk­ing about im­peach­ing the Pres­id­ent, this is about gin­ning up their base,” said El­leithee.

But in his op-ed, Boehner writes that Obama has in the last five years has “con­sist­ently over­stepped his au­thor­ity un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion, and do­ing so eroded the power of the le­gis­lat­ive branch.” Boehner said that time­frame, “not co­in­cid­ent­ally,” relates to when Demo­crats lost the ma­jor­ity in the House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives.

Obama also has re­spon­ded to the po­ten­tial GOP law­suit by call­ing it “a stunt.”

But Boehner in his op-ed called the pres­id­ent’s re­sponses a “flip­pant dis­missal” of the Con­sti­tu­tion, and “dis­ap­point­ing.”

“It is ut­terly be­neath the dig­nity of the of­fice. I know the Pres­id­ent is frus­trated. I’m frus­trated. The Amer­ic­an people are frus­trated, too,” writes Boehner.

“People are tired of this. They are tired of a Con­gress that would rather fight the Pres­id­ent in or­der to turn out their base than work with the Pres­id­ent to get things done,” said the DNC’s El­leithee, in his CNN ap­pear­ance Sunday.

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