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February 14, 2016

House Votes to Sue Obama (Updated) (Video)

The House voted mostly along party lines Wednesday to authorize suing President Barack Obama, which Republicans called a principled move to rein in an increasingly lawless president and Democrats and the White House dismissed as a taxpayer-financed political stunt.

The resolution, adopted 225-201, would authorize a lawsuit against the president over his implementation of the Affordable Care Act, with five Republicans joining all the Democrats in opposition — Paul Broun of Georgia, Steve Stockman of Texas, Scott Garrett of New Jersey, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Walter B. Jones of North Carolina.

GOP leaders plan to sue over his decision to delay the employer mandate without authorization from Congress.

Republicans say the unilateral employer mandate delay is just one example of the White House’s disregard for the rule of law. Indeed, when Speaker John A. Boehner first announced his intent to sue the president, Republicans weren’t sure which action they would target. They had a menu of options to chose from, which Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, highlighted during the floor debate Wednesday.

“By circumventing Congress, the president’s actions have marginalized the role that the American people play in creating the laws that govern them,” said Sessions. “Specifically, the president has waived work requirements for welfare recipients, unilaterally changed immigrations laws, released the ‘Gitmo Five’ without properly notifying Congress — which is the law — and ignored the statutory requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

“We have chosen to bring this legislation forth today,” he continued, “to sue the president over his selected implementation of the Affordable Care Act, because it is the option most likely to clear the legal hurdles necessary to succeed.”

Democrats, of course, cried foul.

Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., said the lawsuit was “nothing more than a partisan bill to rally the Republican base.”

Many Democrats said the lawsuit was the only avenue Republicans had to quell the rank-and-file short of pursuing articles of impeachment.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, called the resolution “veiled attempt for impeachment,” and Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said it was “impeachment-lite.”

The minority party also questioned why House Republicans would sue Obama for not implementing a law they want to repeal.

“Yes, years after rallying against the Affordable Care Act … voting to derail it, working against it … they are suing the president for not implementing it fast enough,” said Rules ranking member Louise M. Slaughter, D-N.Y. “If that makes no sense to you, you are not alone. We don’t understand it either.”

But Boehner stood in the well of the House and sought to dispel those arguments.

“Are you willing to let any president choose what laws to execute and what laws to change?” Boehner asked, framing the issue as one of common sense for anyone concerned about the separation of powers and branches of government. “Are you willing to let anyone tear apart what our founders have built?”

With the passage of the resolution, the House will now proceed to enter into contracts with outside attorneys and legal experts to carry out the lawsuit, using funds from the office of the House general counsel. Republicans have said the scope of the suit is so narrow it won’t require an exorbitant amount of money, and that they will be transparent regardless about the costs.

Democrats have countered that the last time the House pursued legal action as a legislative body — to defend the Defense of Marriage Act — it cost the chamber more than $2 million and led to defeat in the Supreme Court.

Obama earlier dismissed the effort, suggesting it might not even be decided by the courts until after he leaves office.

“The main vote that they’ve scheduled for today is whether or not they decide to sue me for doing my job,” Obama said to boos from an audience in Kansas City, Mo.

“They have announced that they’re going to sue me for taking executive actions to help people.  So they’re mad because I’m doing my job.  And, by the way, I’ve told them — I said, I’d be happy to do it with you.  So the only reason I’m doing it on my own is because you don’t do anything.”

Obama added, “everybody recognizes this is a political stunt, but it’s worse than that, because every vote they’re taking like that means a vote they’re not taking to actually help you.”

He also knocked the GOP for having taxpayers pay for the lawsuit.

“You’re paying for it.  And it’s estimated that by the time the thing was done, I would have already left office.  So it’s not a productive thing to do.”

Matt Fuller and Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.

  • istme

    OH IF ONLY this was the ONLY reason to do this. What about a lot of other things that have been illegal? BUT, you have to start somewhere right?

  • Ms Anonymous

    Either we live under the rule of law, or we live under the rule of Obama.

    • Militaryboy

      Ms. Transparent: Either we live under the Constitution or we follow the extremist right wing over the cliff to our nation’s destruction.

      Look who is suing the President for the first time? Who first brought up impeachment talk? Who is against science in schools? Who is for preventing people getting affordable healthcare? Who is for the darkest of money in politics a la the Koch brothers? Who hates the First Family because,,, gee, I don’t want to say because it is so anti-American?

      I do NOT want to live under the rule of the craziests and most extreme haters. And I will get as many people I know to vote for sane people this fall. A month ago I thought we were looking at a huge GOP-TEA wave. Now these nut*zoids have fired up the Democratic base. And they will rue the day…

      • Layla

        I hope none of you works in high level government positions. That might be an indication of why you are parked here instead of doing your jobs.

        • Militaryboy

          Silly, silly, silly

  • TheDaleks

    According to Repugs, it’s unconstitutional for a president to be black. They promised on the night of his inauguration to block EVERYTHING he does, and they’ve done just that. These idiots want to sue the President for carrying out laws that were passed under previous administrations.

    • foramerica

      “According to Repugs, it’s unconstitutional for a president to be black.” That’s a completely inaccurate and ridiculous statement. There are many blacks who would have made a much better president than Obama (who by the way is half white). Allen West, Alan Keyes, Herman Cain, Condeleza Rice, to name a few. Why is it some people cannot understand the word disagree? For you, it seems, disagree means racist. Learn some English. It doesn’t. We are so TIRED of the race card. In a Republic like ours, if the president does something I DISAGREE with, I’m not going to roll over and play dead for him like you might. His policies suck and are ruining this country. That is not racist. Get it through your head, please, a person can disagree without being racist. Got it, yet? People like you who cry racism constantly are the real problem. In fact, I’m guessing you are the real racist here.

      • grimstar

        Sorry foramerica its clear you don’t spend enough time understanding the political world around you and plan on staying rigid and closed minded.To start I’m a Reagan supporter,and I loved Bush as a president(i’m Black by the way)…at first.His Iraq move to liberate broke my support for him.As for Obama “TheDaleks” is right they said
        that night they would block everything he does.How can anyone be so stupid and blind to not know with those words they planned to gridlock the White House.For what reason????….he’s not the best person to get us out of a new great depression?. Even if we had the best economy man/woman in the world to try and get us out it wasn’t going to happen in less than four years because the first lasted 12 years world wide.No matter what anyone says is race motivated why????….Because the GOP lost to a man of color that White,Black,Asian,and Latino’s put in office and they intend to make it look like he did so bad that we will be shell shocked into never going with another man of color again.Obama not the best man,I wanted an independent but im happy with the direction heis taking us in.One of dialog with other powers and trying to get our allies more involved to step up to the plate of world order.Peace through diplomacy and cooperation because America can’t do it alone.

      • TheDaleks

        Allen West?? LOLOLOL. He is so deranged, he was essentially expelled from the US Army for violating the Code of Conduct by committing a violent act against a prisoner. And his conspiracy theories make Alex Jones sound normal. As for Condi Rice — the lady with an Exxon tanker ship named for her — how many shoes do you think she bought during a natural disaster? And Herman Cain was singularly responsible for keeping restaurant workers in poverty while he made millions.

        So sure, there are a few non-white people who right-wingers like, but for the most part, it’s mostly like these guys below. Note that the idiot in the lower-right corner is Tea Party leader Dale Robertson.

        • Militaryboy

          Please share this picture on as many blogs as you can. Wow!

        • Layla

          I think you’d better check with the rising numbers THIS PRESIDENT is putting into poverty. Ever heard of the Frederick Douglass Republicans? I didn’t think so.

          • Militaryboy

            Actually, the latest economic numbers are the strongest.

      • Militaryboy

        againstamerica: Keep saying, “I’m not a racist. I am not a racist. I am not a racist.” No matter how many times you say it, it still sounds like a lie.

        You learned from the best at Goebbels High.

        • Layla

          And you still have a few years left to graduate. What an infantile statement.

          • Militaryboy

            If you say so. The point is the more people bring up race and then deny it, shows it affects their thinking and need to take stock of their prejudices.

  • Derrick S.

    I certainly have not seen Congress perform one thing to benefit the people they claim to represent. They didn’t send out a request to me, nor did they send one to my neighbors asking what they can do for us.
    It is because they don’t feel they work for us. That is some song and dance routine to acquire votes. Once in office, it’s business as usual. Coke and Ho’s for everyone….. Hey, come join the party folks. Blow for everyone, kids are welcome!

    • foramerica

      That’s kind of a stupid thing to say. We supposedly elect them to represent us. If they had to ask you for every single thing, it would kind of undermine the whole idea of representation now wouldn’t it?

      • Militaryboy

        Stick to repeating,”I am not a racist. I am not a racist!” Someone might believe you but not us.

  • Dave

    How dare the President try to help the American people when the GOP is busy obstructing everything while dancing to the Koch brothers’ fiddle!

    • Militaryboy

      Koch brothers: the puppetmasters for lowest information voters.

  • Malcolm Kantzler

    When this House GOP sitcom debuts in federal court, I hope the judge will throw them out on their ears for trying to tie up his/her court with something they have no right/grounds to prosecute.

    The Constitution specifies the ONLY path Congress has to take any president to task for any perceived transgressions: impeachment proceedings. This end-run attempt is just another example of GOP disrespect for the very constitutional process of which they accuse the president, and it’s typical cowardice, attempting to tie up the administration’s last years without risking voter backlash for initiating an impeachment proceeding, no matter whether they have any case to bring.

    What I’d like to see is somebody take the Tan man and his gang to court to sue that they personally refund the tax dollars they’re spending on lawyers to export this garbage case out of their chambers.

  • Layla

    Message to Steny Hoyer: The GOP base is not alone in this issue.

  • FredSlice

    Why didn’t the Republicans want to sue George Bush when he exceeded his authority with unilateral changes to the the Medicare Modernization Act?

  • K. Bronicki

    I believe the only reason they would vote for this is because they know it won’t pass the Senate – it’s a game to get votes from their constituents. The flip side is that this vote makes them appear too radical to represent their district or state.

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