House Republicans moved forward today with their vow to sue President Obama for executive overreach, introducing a draft resolution “providing for authority to initiate litigation for actions by the president inconsistent with his duties under the Constitution of the United States.”
The resolution allows the speaker of the House to “initiate or intervene in one or more civil actions on behalf of the House of Representatives in a Federal court” in response to “implementation of (including a failure to implement) any provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” deemed unconstitutional.
“We do this in order to uphold our oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. It is the same oath the president has taken, and yet, time and again he has circumvented the American people and their elected representatives,” said House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas).
“The president’s failure to uphold his oath dangerously shifts the balance of power away from what the Founding Fathers intended and the Constitution requires,” Sessions added. “Congress’ ability to effectively represent the American people is severely restricted when the executive unilaterally chooses to create its own laws. Further, the president’s actions undermine the rule of law which enables a fair and functioning society in which individuals may invest and businesses may create jobs that help our economy grow.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) stressed that “no president should have the power to make laws on his or her own.”
“In 2013, the president changed the health care law without a vote of Congress, effectively creating his own law by literally waiving the employer mandate and the penalties for failing to comply with it. That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work,” Boehner said.
“As I’ve said, this isn’t about Republicans versus Democrats; it’s about the Legislative Branch versus the Executive Branch, and above all protecting the Constitution. The Constitution states that the president must faithfully execute the laws, and spells out that only the Legislative Branch has the power to legislate. The current president believes he has the power to make his own laws – at times even boasting about it,” the Speaker continued. “He has said that if Congress won’t make the laws he wants, he’ll go ahead and make them himself, and in the case of the employer mandate in his health care law, that’s exactly what he did.”
“If this president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well. The House has an obligation to stand up for the Legislative Branch, and the Constitution, and that is exactly what we will do.”
Obama mocked the lawsuit during remarks in Austin today.
“There are a number of Republicans, including a number in the Texas delegation, who are mad at me for taking these actions. They actually plan to sue me,” he said, followed by audience laughter. “Now, I don’t know which things they find most offensive — me helping to create jobs, or me raising wages, or me easing the student loan burdens, or me making sure women can find out whether they’re getting paid the same as men for doing the same job. I don’t know which of these actions really bug them.”
“The truth is, even with all the actions I’ve taken this year, I’m issuing executive orders at the lowest rate in more than 100 years. So it’s not clear how it is that Republicans didn’t seem to mind when President Bush took more executive actions than I did,” Obama continued. “Maybe it’s just me they don’t like. I don’t know. Maybe there’s some principle out there that I haven’t discerned, that I haven’t figure out. You hear some of them — ‘sue him,’ ‘impeach him.’ Really? Really? For what? You’re going to sue me for doing my job? Okay.”
On Wednesday, after meeting with Texas Gov. Rick Perry in Dallas, Obama said Perry suggested “maybe you just need to go ahead and act and that might convince Republicans that they should go ahead and pass the supplemental.”
“And I had to remind him, I’m getting sued right now by Mr. Boehner apparently for going ahead and acting instead of going through Congress,” the president said. “Well, here’s a good test case.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said Obama is being “very clever to try to mix these two issues” of executive orders and the immigration crisis.
“Article 2 of the Constitution that gives the president his power is very clear. ‘The presidential shall faithfully execute the laws.’ And that means enforcing the laws that have been passed and signed into law and not creating new laws or changing laws that already exist,” Goodlatte told CNN. “There are laws on the books today that the president is not enforcing that would solve this problem.”