Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, doesn't buy the White House's explanation that the tax code allows President Barack Obama to change laws on his own.
On Monday, Obama for the 24th time changed or delayed his own signature healthcare law by delaying the employer mandate
for yet another year for businesses with 50-99 employees. His administration says it has broad authority under the tax code to implement laws in ways that will encourage compliance.
But Lee, appearing on "Fox News Sunday"
said that if such a mandate exists, "then there's almost no limit to his authority.
"We have a government of one. We have a super-executive and super-legislator vested in the president of the United States," Lee told host Chris Wallace.
"The president knows this is wrong and it's not defensible. He's violated the Constitution. He's exercising power that doesn't belong to him," Lee said.
But Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, told Wallace that if Obama's executive actions were unconstitutional "someone would have sued by now and the president would have had to stop."
Besides, he noted, Obama has issued far fewer executive actions at this point in his presidency that past presidents going back through Ronald Reagan.
Lee responded that the fact that other presidents have done it in the past doesn't justify it now. Other Republicans have said that previous presidents haven't misused the executive order rule as they believe Obama has.
Republicans also accuse Obama of delaying parts of the Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare – to avoid political pain
in this year's midterm congressional elections. Democrats are distancing themselves from the law that has had a shaky start.
"This is a shameless act, a shameless power grab that is designed to help the president and his political party achieve a particular outcome in a partisan election," Lee said.
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