| WASHINGTON, July 16
WASHINGTON, July 16 The Republican effort to sue
President Barack Obama over his use of executive powers got
under way in Congress on Wednesday at a hearing where lawmakers
and constitutional law experts bickered over the move in a taste
of the politicking to come.
The House of Representatives' Rules Committee is expected to
vote next week on a resolution authorizing a lawsuit centering
on Obama's delays and other changes to his signature health
insurance reform law, with a floor vote before the end of July.
House Speaker John Boehner is pursuing the suit to protect
Congress' rights from what he calls Obama's "king-like"
overreach of executive authority in making unilateral moves to
advance his agenda.
Republicans argue that a prime example of this was Obama's
decision last year to delay a mandate for larger firms to
provide employees health insurance under the Affordable Care
Act, a law they have tried unsuccessfully to repeal for years.
The case would likely take months, perhaps years, to wind
its way through the courts, but its timing gives Republicans a
new line of attack against Obama in their campaigns before
November's congressional elections, in which they are trying to
win back control of the Senate and build on their House
During the Rules Committee's nearly five-hour hearing on
Wednesday, Democrats on the panel accused Republicans of
spending taxpayer money on a political "stunt" that they called
"haphazard," "frivolous" and "preposterous."
"We're here because my Republican friends don't like Barack
Obama," said Democratic Representative Jim McGovern. "They don't
like that he was elected twice. They don't like that he's more
popular than they are, and they really don't like that the
Affordable Care Act is actually working."
Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, a Republican, said
the case was an important effort to preserve the separation of
powers envisioned by America's founding fathers.
"My fear is that our nation is currently facing the exact
threat that the Constitution is designed to avoid. Branches of
government have always attempted to exert their influence on the
other branches, but this president has gone too far," he said.
Constitutional law experts disagreed on whether Obama had
overstepped his authority and whether the House of
Representatives had legal standing to pursue the case.
Elizabeth Price Foley, law professor at Florida
International University College of Law, said the litigation was
the most "tailored and appropriate response" to Obama's actions.
"States can sue to preserve their power; the executive
branch can sue to preserve its power, but somehow, magically,
Congress can't?" Foley said.
Her position contrasted with a column she wrote in February
for "The Daily Caller" website, in which she said, "Congress
probably can't sue the president" because of limits imposed by
Supreme Court decisions.
Simon Lazarus, a counsel at the Constitutional
Accountability Center, argued that the lawsuit "mocked" the
Constitution and "flouted long-established Supreme Court
He said Obama was merely doing his job by "carrying laws
into execution," adding that federal statutes provide the
president some leeway in implementation. "Good faith,
reasonable, phasing in" of the ACA was constitutionally
authorized, he said.
Democratic lawmakers said the fact that Boehner decided to
sue Obama before even pinpointing a focus proved the suit was
(Reporting by Annika McGinnis, writing by David Lawder; Editing
by Cynthia Osterman)