House Panel OKs Vote on Obama Lawsuit 07/25 06:27
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Over Democratic objections, Republicans cleared the way
Thursday for a House vote on legislation authorizing an election-year lawsuit
accusing President Barack Obama of failing to implement the 4-year-old health
care law as it was written.
The vote in the Rules Committee was 7-4, with all Republicans in favor and
all Democrats opposed.
Republicans say the lawsuit is necessary because Obama is exceeding his
authority as president by failing to carry out legislation that Congress passed
and he signed into law.
"The Constitution that we have sworn to uphold provides separate powers for
each branch of the federal government, so that no single branch can trample
upon the liberties of the American people," said Rep. Pete Sessions, the Texas
Republican who chairs the panel. "Unfortunately the president has ignored the
requirements of the Constitution."
Democrats swiftly countered that the suit is a political maneuver designed
to improve Republican prospects in the November elections. In a statement
released shortly after the vote, the party's House leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of
California, said constitutional law experts have said the suit is without merit.
"But you don't need to be an expert to see it's nothing more than a
desperate partisan stunt. Republicans should drop the distractions and join
Democrats in addressing the priorities of the American people: creating jobs,"
Even so, Democrats conceded that majority Republicans have enough votes to
prevail when the measure comes to a scheduled vote in the next few days,
shortly before lawmakers begin a five-week vacation.
Republicans have long claimed that Obama has selectively enforced the health
care law, pointing to a series of executive orders he has issued since its
enactment. The administration disputes that view.
In his remarks, Sessions expanded the list of allegations, saying Obama had
unilaterally waived work requirements for welfare recipients, ended
accountability provisions in the education law No Child Left Behind, and
refused to inform Congress of the transfer of Taliban prisoners from the U.S.
detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., predicted that any suit would be thrown out
on procedural grounds.
Slaughter said that a federal judge had recently dismissed a suit by Sen.
Ron Johnson, R-Wis., regarding lawmakers and aides and their health care. The
allegation in the suit was that the administration had incorrectly applied the
law, she said, adding that U.S. District Judge William C. Griesbach refused to
hear the case.
She quoted him as ruling: "Under our constitutional design, in the absence
of a concrete injury to a party that can be redressed by the courts, disputes
between the executive and legislative branches over the exercise of their
respective powers are to be resolved through the political process, not by
decisions issued by federal judges."
The legislation cleared by the committee on Thursday allows the House to sue
any executive branch officials, including the president, for failing to carry
out their duties under the Constitution in connection with implementation of
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has vociferously disputed charges that
the legal move is politically motivated, or that it is designed to tamp down
sentiment among tea party supporters for impeachment proceedings against Obama.
For their part, Democrats have used the possibility of a lawsuit to raise
campaign contributions in advance of the November elections.