John Boehner's Lawsuit Hits Obama On Health Care Law Changes

John Boehner's Lawsuit Hits Obama On Health Care Law Changes

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) lawsuit against President Barack Obama will focus on the administration's unilateral changes to the health care law's employer mandate, according to a draft resolution released on Thursday.

The resolution, which Boehner is likely to bring to the House floor this month, would authorize the House General Counsel to initiate litigation against Obama and "compel" the president to enforce the law. In a statement, the speaker said Obama had violated the Constitution last year by delaying the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act.

"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," Boehner said.

The Obama administration announced last year that the government would not penalize businesses that failed to provide health insurance in 2014, thus delaying the law's so-called employer mandate until 2015. The White House also postponed the start date for some mid-sized businesses.

Administration officials said the decision to delay the provision was made after considering a flood of complaints from business owners, who asked for additional time to meet the health care law's requirements. The officials were unable to pinpoint when the decision was made, or whether it was ultimately decided by the White House or the Treasury Department.

A Treasury spokesman previously said the delay was based on the department's "longstanding authority to grant transition relief when implementing new legislation," according to the trade publication Government Executive.

House Republicans voted to delay the employer mandate themselves following the administration's announcement last year, arguing that they did not believe the president had the authority to delay its implementation on his own.

Obama and Democrats have dismissed the lawsuit as a political stunt by Republicans to shore up support among their base going into November's midterm elections. Defenders of the president have also pointed out that his predecessors have signed far more executive orders.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest called the lawsuit "disappointing."

"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," Earnest said in a statement. "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 (D-Calif.), said Republicans were wasting taxpayer dollars on "another toxic partisan stunt."

"This lawsuit is just another distraction from House Republicans desperate to distract the American people from their own spectacular obstruction and dysfunction," Hammill said in a statement. "Congress should be creating jobs, raising new ladders of opportunity, and focusing on the challenges facing hard working American families."

Boehner insisted on Thursday that the lawsuit was appropriate.

"The current president believes he has the power to make his own laws -– at times even boasting about it," Boehner said. "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."

Read the draft resolution below:

This article has been updated to include comments from the White House and from Pelosi's spokesman.

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