Congress Warned Obama's Actions Making the Body 'Less and Less Relevant'
Rep. Sheila Jackson (D-Texas) retorted that if Congress is seen as irrelevant it is because members are wasting time with such hearings, instead of passing legislation.
“If we would simply do our job, the relevance to the American people would exceed our expectation,” she said.
Many Democrats on the panel challenged the legitimacy of the hearing, calling it a “farce” and “pure political theater.”
“Once again we are bloviating and not legislating in this committee,” Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said.
Simon Lazarus, senior counsel to the Constitutional Accountability Center, defended the president’s actions. He called the employer mandate delay a “routine, temporary course correction.”
“This and other subsequently announced delays…do not constitute refusals to enforce the ACA at all. On the contrary, they are merely phasing in adjustments designed to ensure effective implementation of the overall statute,” he said.
Lazarus said opponents of the administration’s policies have used the take-care clause to conceal what are in reality “political and policy attacks.”
Constitutional law expert Richard Rosenkranz said Obama has stretched the concept of prosecutorial discretion – which grants the executive branch the inherent power to choose which cases to act on – particularly in a decision to stop enforcement against certain types of illegal immigrants.
He said that in the immigration law case, the DREAM Act, the president has chosen to do the exact opposite than with the ACA.
“In the Obamacare context, the president suspended an act of Congress – a statute that was duly passed by both houses of Congress, and which he himself had signed into law. In the immigration context, the situation is the opposite,” he said. “Rather than declining to comply with a duly enacted statute, the President is complying meticulously with a bill that never became a law.”
In 2012, the administration stopped the deportation of thousands of young illegal immigrants under the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) program. The program applies to any illegal immigrant aged 16 to 31 who came to the United States as a child, has either graduated from high school or is currently enrolled in school, and does not have a criminal record.
Many supporters of immigration reform have called on Obama to expand deferred deportations to all 11 million illegal immigrants in the country. The president recently denied he has the power to stop all deportations unilaterally.
“If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so,” Obama told a heckler in San Francisco last week. “But we’re also a nation of laws. ...And so the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws. And what I’m proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve.”