July 31, 2014 2:12 am

House backs Republican Obama lawsuit

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, strides to the chamber as lawmakers prepare to move on legislation authorizing an election-year lawsuit against President Barack Obama that accuses him of exceeding his powers in enforcing his health care law, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, July 30, 2014. Democrats have branded the effort a political charade aimed at stirring up Republican voters for the fall congressional elections. They say it's also an effort by top Republicans to mollify conservatives who want Obama to be impeached, something Boehner said Tuesday he has no plans to do. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)©AP

Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner

Republicans are preparing to file a lawsuit against President Barack Obama for allegedly exceeding his executive authority as campaigning warms up ahead of midterm elections.

On Wednesday evening the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted by 225 to 201 to authorise the lawsuit, which Republican lawyers will draft during a five-week congressional recess beginning on Friday.

The suit will target changes that Mr Obama made to his signature healthcare law, which Republicans say reflect a pattern of “aggressive over-reach” by the president in breach of his constitutional powers.

Mr Obama called the Republican move a wasteful “political stunt” and criticised the party for not instead focusing on legislation that he said was more important to most Americans, who will go to the polls in November.

John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House, instigated the lawsuit and has linked it to jobs and business, saying the US economy suffers when laws such as the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, are not implemented consistently.

On the House floor on Wednesday, he told lawmakers: “This isn’t about Republicans or Democrats. It’s about defending the constitution we swore an oath to uphold, and acting decisively when it may be compromised . . . Are you willing to let any president choose what laws to execute and what laws to change?”

Earlier in the day Mr Obama urged Republicans to “stop just hating all the time” as he criticised them for thwarting congressional action on other issues such as an influx of child migrants and replenishing a highway construction fund.

“They’re going to sue me for taking executive actions to help people. So they’re mad because I’m doing my job,” he told a crowd in Kansas City, Missouri.

Five House Republicans voted with Democrats against the lawsuit, which will focus on the president’s decision to twice extend an Obamacare deadline for businesses to provide employees with health insurance.

Steny Hoyer, a senior Democratic congressman, said it was ironic that Republicans wanted to sue the president for failing to implement a healthcare law that they have lambasted and sought to repeal.

“It is wrong. It is a waste of time. It is a waste of money. It is a distraction from the important issues so important to our people. This lawsuit is nothing more than a partisan bill to rally the Republican base,” he said.

Some conservative voters, including members of the Tea Party movement, say the president’s perceived breaches of authority are among their biggest political concerns.

In an op-ed this week, Mr Boehner wrote: “There is a conflict between the executive branch and the legislative branch of our government. It is the judiciary branch’s role to help resolve it.”

While Republicans insist that the president is not implementing the law, party leaders have spent the week trying to quash suggestions that they want to impeach Mr Obama.

Democrats have seized on remarks from a small number of Republicans calling for impeachment as a sign that the party wants to go further. Republican leaders have accused Democrats of raising the spectre to help their own campaign fundraising.

Republicans have cited as other examples of executive over-reach Mr Obama’s actions on climate change, immigration policy and prisoner releases from Guantánamo Bay.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2015. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.

NEWS BY EMAIL

Sign up for email briefings to stay up to date on topics you are interested in

SHARE THIS QUOTE