Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 20, 2014

Is the Employer Mandate Delay Legal?

Can a president just pick and choose which laws to enforce? That’s a question some Republicans are asking after the Obama administration announced late Tuesday that it would delay enforcement of the employer health care mandate set to take effect in 2014.

Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., chairman of the Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions, asked the Congressional Research Service on Wednesday for information regarding President Barack Obama’s ability to hold up the health care employer mandate.

“This action raises a lot of questions about whether the Obama administration can simply ignore the law when it’s convenient for them,” Roe said in a press release Wednesday. “I have asked Congress’s research arm to investigate because I don’t think any president has the authority to pick and choose what parts of law to follow.”

On Tuesday, just hours after the administration announced in a blog post that it would delay the employer mandate until 2015, Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa issued a press release saying it was “unclear” whether Obama has the authority to do this without Congress.

“This is another in a string of extra legal actions taken by his administration to mask the horrible impact his law will have on the economy and health care in the United States,” Issa said.

On Wednesday, Issa’s office sent CQ Roll Call a document outlining its legal concerns. The law very clearly states that the employer mandate, which requires employers with 50 or more workers to provide essential coverage or pay penalties, “shall” go into effect after December 31, 2013.

However, the relevant section of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says the health care law shall be “in accordance with regulations promulgated by the secretary.”

  • Mark Hancock

    Sounds like Congress is learning that they have rendered themselves essentially powerless, un-essential, irrelevant – they keep passing laws that they don’t read that have clauses in them that turn everything over to the bureaucrats in the Executive branch….

  • Don England

    The Obama administration has been picking and choosing which immigration enforcement laws to enforce or not enforce since being in office. The S.744 immigration legislation has a lot in common with Obamacare. It wasn’t read before being voted on and will be very costly to citizens and our Country. It will even give incentive for illegal aliens to be hired before citizens because of Obamacare cost. The GOP should not pick and choose which laws to confront Obama on either. It is the executive branch that should see to it that laws passed by Congress are enforced. Congress and the GOP needs to call Obamas hand on any law he refuses to enforce! If you won’t you are acquiescent to a dictatorship!

  • JosephJankovic

    The Obama administration has ignored numerous laws since his initial inaguration so this is nothing new.
    They preach the Rule of Law to other nations but then ignore it at home.
    I am awaiting the day that they announce that they will allow terrorists to go free unless they are allowed to do prosecute as they demand, which means in New York City in a civilian court and not before a Military Tribunal.

  • larry sheppard

    If government can pick and choose which laws it wants to enforce, then why can’t citizens choose which laws they want to obey. This is government doing what it does best, make a mess.

  • Jim

    There is a slight chance that some of my fellow commenters are speaking in overly broad and provocative terms, perhaps due to some prior judgments they’ve made about the ACA, the Congress that passed it, and the President that signed it into law. This being an Internet forum, the chances of such bad-faith arguments are, of course, incredibly remote.

    From my perspective, even the staunchest ACA supporters admitted from the outset that rollout and implementation would be a tricky process requiring continued analysis and occasional course correction. This is the reason for the “regulations promulgated by the secretary” language quoted at the end of this article. Now, would it be better if Congress could pass the mandate delay through the appropriate legislative channels? In a world with a functioning U.S. Congress, yes, that would be preferable. In this world, trying to pass something like that would simply be the next ticket to the Stop 38 on the Repeal or Obstruct Obamacare Traveling Salvation Show.

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