Boehner Lawsuit to Focus on Obamacare Mandate Delay

Thursday, 10 Jul 2014 09:15 PM

By Todd Beamon

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House Speaker John Boehner's lawsuit against President Barack Obama will focus on  the Obamacare employer mandate delay, according to a draft of the resolution authorizing the litigation that the House of Representatives will vote on later this month.

The draft resolution, released Thursday, gives Boehner the authority to seek injunctive relief for failure by Obama and members of his administration to act in a manner consistent with the Constitution and U.S. laws "with respect to implementation of (including failure to implement) the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act."

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The draft was released by the House Rules Committee, whose chairman is Texas GOP Rep. Pete Sessions.

Boehner said the lawsuit will challenge the Obama administration's move earlier this year to delay by a year the requirement that companies offer health insurance to their employees or pay a penalty.

"The president changed the healthcare law without a vote of Congress, effectively creating his own law by literally waiving the employer mandate and the penalties for failing to comply with it," Boehner said in a statement. "That's not the way our system of government was designed to work.

"No president should have the power to make laws on his or her own," the Ohio Republican said.

Boehner first announced plans for the lawsuit last month. It comes less than four months before congressional elections in which Republicans are trying to expand their House majority and wrest control of the Senate from the Democrats.

Under Obamacare, employers with 50 to 99 workers must provide coverage or pay a fine of $2,000 per employee. The requirement was delayed to January 2016 — after an earlier delay in July 2013, which had pushed back the mandate until January 2015.

For businesses with 100 or more workers, the final rules lower to 70 percent the number of full-time workers to whom an employer must offer coverage next year. Businesses are required to offer coverage to 95 percent of their employees from 2016 on.

The White House has delayed or waived various mandates of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 at least 38 times. Thousands of Americans continue to be without coverage because of backlogs or glitches in different enrollment systems across the country, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The Rules Committee has scheduled a hearing on the resolution next week, with a full House vote by the end of the month.

Republicans have long charged that Obama's signature domestic achievement should be repealed — and the House has voted nearly 40 times to do so.

"This isn't about Republicans versus Democrats; it’s about the legislative branch versus the executive branch, and above all protecting the Constitution," Boehner said in the statement. "The Constitution states that the president must faithfully execute the laws, and spells out that only the legislative branch has the power to legislate.

"The current president believes he has the power to make his own laws — at times even boasting about it. He has said that if Congress won’t make the laws he wants, he’ll go ahead and make them himself, and in the case of the employer mandate in his healthcare law, that’s exactly what he did.

"If this president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well," Boehner said. "The House has an obligation to stand up for the legislative branch, and the Constitution, and that is exactly what we will do."

The White House dismissed the lawsuit as a "political stunt" — and Obama belittled it in a speech in Austin, Texas, on Thursday.

"You're going to sue me for doing my job?" Obama asked at a speech to Democratic donors at the Paramount Theater. "OK. I mean, think about that: You're going to use taxpayer money to sue me for doing my job — while you don't do your job."

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The crowd applauded.

"Sometimes I feel like saying to these guys: 'I'm the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy,'" Obama said.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that the GOP needed to devote more time to working with Obama to create jobs for middle-class Americans.

"At a time when Washington should be working to expand economic opportunities for the middle class, Republican leaders in Congress are playing Washington politics rather than working with the President on behalf of hardworking Americans," Earnest said in a statement.

"As the President said today, he is doing his job — lawsuit or not — and it's time Republicans in Congress did theirs," he said.

The Boehner effort also comes as Obama seeks $3.7 billion from Congress to address the crisis created by the arrests of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, especially minors traveling alone, at the U.S. border with Mexico.

Republicans have railed against the proposal, charging that Obama's lax enforcement of the nation's immigration laws have created the crisis.

The Rules Committee's hearing is set for Wednesday.

"The president’s failure to uphold his oath dangerously shifts the balance of power away from what the Founding Fathers intended and the Constitution requires," Sessions told Politico. "Congress' ability to effectively represent the American people is severely restricted when the executive unilaterally chooses to create its own laws."

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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