U.S. House votes to move forward with lawsuit against President Obama

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Win McNamee/Getty Images

Win McNamee/Getty Images

(CNN) — The Republican-led House approved a resolution on Wednesday authorizing Speaker John Boehner to sue President Barack Obama over claims he abused his powers at the expense of Congress and the Constitution.

The vote was 225-201.

Republicans argue Obama’s executive orders in a number of areas were unlawful because it’s the job of Congress to make or change laws. But they believe his handling of the Affordable Care act gives them the best chance at proving their case, and are basing the suit on that issue.

House authorization now allows GOP-leaders to have the unusual challenge filed in federal court. The time frame for that is not clear and many legal experts question whether any judge would take it on.

Not a single House Democrat voted for the resolution and five Republicans opposed it. They were: GOP members Paul Broun of Maryland, Scott Garrett of New Jersey, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Steve Stockman of Texas, and Walter Jones of North Carolina.

The vote takes partisan rancor in Washington to a new level less than four months before congressional midterms with control of the Senate at stake.

The focus on Obamacare also magnifies politics around the sweeping health law Republicans didn’t support and have tried to derail since its approval in 2010. It also illustrates Obama’s attempts to act on his own with he and Congress getting nowhere on top-shelf legislative initiatives.

Dems claim impeachment coming

Democrats quickly seized to turn the debate on the lawsuit, saying prior to the vote that the real desire of the GOP is to ultimately impeach Obama.

Boehner, who has repeatedly said he disagrees with those pushing impeachment, attempted to shut down that discussion this week.

Insisting that Republicans have “no plans” and “no future plans” to impeach Obama, Boehner denounced the talk of it as “a scam started by Democrats at the White House.”

But Democrats seized on polls showing a majority of Americans oppose any effort to remove the President from office, and aren’t letting go of the issue.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said the lawsuit was “on a path to nowhere or maybe among some in your ranks, a path to impeachment.”

Apparently not satisfied with Boehner’s assurance, Pelosi directed this at him: “If you don’t want to hear people use the word impeachment, as your people have done, then tell them impeachment is off the table.”

Obama tweaks GOP on impeachment

Obama, himself, tweaked Republicans on Wednesday. In Kansas City, Missouri, he noted the House was about to leave Washington for the month of August, but “the main vote that they have scheduled for today is whether or not they decide to sue me for doing my job.”

During debate, Democrats lined up on their side of the chamber and one after the other requested that GOP leaders allow votes on measures to raise the minimum wage, extend jobless benefits, and ensure pay equity.

They knew Republicans wouldn’t hold off on the lawsuit to take any of those issues up, but the the theater was designed to underscore their argument that the majority party was focused on the lawsuit rather than legislating.

The campaign arm for House Democrats arm has raised $7.6 million from appeals to supporters citing the suit and tied it to the threat of impeachment.

Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, defended the aggressive public push and pledged Democrats would continue it through the midterm election in November.

“You bet we’re going to run on a Congress that is just obsessed with lawsuits, suing the President, talking about impeaching him, instead of solutions for the middle class,” Israel told CNN.

Americans don’t like suit, impeachment

A CNN/ORC International poll released last week showed those Americans surveyed, by a 57%-41% margin, opposed the lawsuit. Nearly two-thirds said Obama should not be impeached.

Texas Republican Pete Sessions responded to Democratic refrains that the resolution was the first step toward impeachment.

He said the House voted in 1998 to impeach Bill Clinton because “he lied to an FBI agent, he lied to a federal grand jury, and he violated the federal law which was a felony.”

But in Obama’s case, Republicans believe he isn’t “faithfully executing the laws,” which he has sworn to do, and “that is an entirely different process.”

Oregon Republican Greg Walden, chairman of the House Republican’s political operation, said “impeachment is not on table.”

And he issued a warning to fellow Republicans at a meeting, saying that any time the GOP raised the issue it only helped Democrats.

The Obamacare focus

When Boehner announced last month that he would sue Obama, he followed a course many tea party members and conservatives had urged for months.

They were especially angered by actions Obama took without consulting Congress to change or delay key Obamacare provisions, to allow children of undocumented immigrants to stay in the country, and to release Taliban prisoners from U.S. custody in exchange for Afghan war prisoner Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Initially, Boehner indicated the House would sue over Obama’s decision last summer to delay for a year a central health law requirement for businesses provide health coverage to their employees.

The House voted to do the same thing last July, but Republicans argued they did so to protect the integrity of Congress in the face of what they believed was executive overreach.

After consulting legal experts, the House resolution was tweaked to give Boehner more flexibility. It specified that the suit can cite the administration’s implementation of any provision of Obamacare.

The House’s Office of General Counsel will represent the House in court and the resolution gives it the authority to hire outside lawyers to finalize the legal strategy and file a formal complaint.

Many constitutional experts have raised doubts that the courts will take up the case. The legal burden will be on the House to present how it was damaged as an institution by the President’s actions.

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  • Am

    That effing fake tanned Boehner needs to step down…he has led his party in constant bullying of the President and it’s obviously the loss of power they didn’t get when the PRESIDENT made decisions…right or wrong ones. If the effing President of the U.S. cant make a decision WHYNHAVE ONE? The right wing thugs are strong arming just like a group of Mafiosos. God help him and then in an election year…down they’ll go and take that pill popping rush Limbaugh with him…and I’m not even a Democrat! I’m FOR THE PEOPLE which apparently NO LEVEL of government IS!! P@@s Boehner ya George Hamilton wanna be!!!! Hahahahaha!

    • JG

      Lol “right wing thugs”? Nice you sound like a totally unbiased knowledgeable person. I suspect that you enjoy a great deal of free Govt money.

      • Am

        F88k u a$$hole! I’ve worked since I was sixteen and raised and supported three kids BY MYSELF! I am recently retired and am getting social security (which is my OWN damn $$ that the gov so ‘kindly’ is giving me back AND my paid into retirement funds from all my hard years of work. YOU are the ignorant one! I am neither right nor left. I am anti ALL sides of gov. I am an AMERICAN and everyone in office at every level should be shipped overseas permanently preferably to worn torn countries full of oil so they may be drowned or boiled in it. WE the people receive zip from any of them. “Ya say ya wanna revolution…..”

  • Kiki

    If the Republican Party would spend less time trying to lynch the president , live off minimum wage with no benefits, maybe they would spend more time resolving the economic issues facing the majority of the populace.

    • JG

      Raising minimum wage in a country that prints it’s own money does nothing. Not to mention no rent caps so the housing industries raise rents with the minimum wages. You can do anything and go anywhere if you are driven and make the right choices. But Obama has let people believe that they deserve handouts.

  • J

    psst… your ignorance is showing…The President hasn’t failed, Congress has. They have failed the American people and all the flying ignorami that are looking out for the rich and the corporations are going to have a hard lesson come November. In all their inactivity, they are on the wrong side of history. The party of No will no longer have a stranglehold on the prosperity of the middle class and poor, and this country. We the people, are tired of Republicans not taking responsibility for their actions and inactions.

    • JG

      Your ignorance is astounding! What did your parents tell you “Republicans are bad, Democrats are good” Obama is breaking federal laws and I’m sure you don’t even know what scorched earth is. Americans like you are what make this country terrible blind and naive.

  • Skip

    Maybe the lunatic troll named JOE could point out or list all the great things the Republicans have accomplished. We will be watching for that information. Basically, they are wasting time and money just like the GOP government shut down of 2013, which is costing us over 25 billion dollars in lost revenue.

  • Mark Hanna

    Last gasp of the GOP. And once Democrats have all the power, we’ll see their true colors while the middle class is punished into poverty to save the poor. Witness the end of old time two-party politics. How long will Millennial’s stay on the sidelines?

    • JG

      What middle class? Who are you talking about? Oh America has a middle class problem let’s throw money at them and even though that will just go to the businesses th hat will then raise the prices it will in no way help the individuals that need help.

  • Slam1263 (@IKnowBO)

    And the President spent $300.000 to fly down to KC, and have mediocre ribs.
    I wish he would write some more EO’s, it’s the only time he does his job.
    Maybe he should give the Criminal Aliens amnesty, then they can lower the prices at all of the restaurants, and stores.

    • JG

      And lastly! Really he spent money on cheap ribs! Cool beans that really affects the rest of us right!? I do however agree to opening the border though most Obama supporters don’t support open borders because Americans are spoiled and greedy and instead of helping Mexico we are rejecting them and sending children back to their death.

  • jazzy

    no transportation bill, no immigration bill, no emergency funding bill to deal with the border crisis and Israel Gaza conflict… oh my.. Heckofajob Boehner and McConnell