House Speaker John Boehner’s lawsuit against President Barack Obama will focus on Obama’s 2013 decision to unilaterally delay implementation of the so-called employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act.
Boehner’s office released a draft document on Thursday of the resolution set to be filed in the House of Representatives, which would authorise the chamber to take legal action against the president.
“Today we’re releasing a draft resolution that will authorise the House to file suit over the way President Obama unilaterally changed the employer mandate,” Boehner said in a statement.
“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. No president should have the power to make laws on his or her own.”
The House Rules Committee will consider the draft resolution next Wednesday.
Boehner has hinted at the lawsuit for weeks, arguing Obama has continually overstepped his constitutional authority. Boehner sent a memo to the House Republican conference late last month, informing them of his plans to file legislation in July that would allow the House of Representatives to file suit to compel Obama to “faithfully execute the laws of our country.”
He wrote in a CNN.com op-ed on Sunday that the House could target a number of specific executive actions as fodder for its lawsuit, including Obama’s actions with regard to the Affordable Care Act, energy regulations, foreign policy, and education.
The White House and the president himself have jokingly dismissed the lawsuit. On Thursday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest called the plans for a suit a “political stunt.”
“It is disappointing that Speaker Boehner and Congressional Republicans have decided to waste time and taxpayer dollars on a political stunt,” Earnest said.
“At a time when Washington should be working to expand economic opportunities for the middle class, Republican leaders in Congress are playing Washington politics rather than working with the President on behalf of hardworking Americans. As the President said today, he is doing his job — lawsuit or not — and it’s time Republicans in Congress did theirs.”
Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, also blasted Boehner’s plan in a statement.
“Time and again, House Republicans’ total abdication of responsibility has forced the President to act,” Hammill said. “They have wasted billions of taxpayer dollars forcing a downgrade of the U.S. economy and a shutdown of the federal government, and now, after wasting millions defending discrimination in the federal courts, the resolution unveiled tonight would authorise hiring more partisan lawyers for yet another legal boondoggle doomed to fail.”
The Obama administration first delayed a year ago the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act, which requires most businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to provide health insurance meeting certain minimum criteria — or pay a penalty of $US2,000 per worker.
In February, the administration announced it will delay the mandate’s penalty another year for small businesses with 50-99 workers. It said it would also adjust some of the requirements for larger employers.
Under the new Treasury Department rules, businesses with 100 employees or more must offer coverage to at least 70% of full-time workers in 2015 and 95% in 2016, or face a penalty.
This post has been updated.
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