Suing Obama: GOP-led House gives the go-ahead

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Suing Obama: GOP-led House gives the go-ahead
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, strides to the chamber as lawmakers prepare to move on legislation authorizing an election-year lawsuit against President Barack Obama that accuses him of exceeding his powers in enforcing his health care law, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, July 30, 2014. Democrats have branded the effort a political charade aimed at stirring up Republican voters for the fall congressional elections. They say it's also an effort by top Republicans to mollify conservatives who want Obama to be impeached, something Boehner said Tuesday he has no plans to do. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio strides to the House chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 30, 2014, as lawmakers prepare to move on legislation authorizing an election-year lawsuit against President Barack Obama that accuses him of exceeding his powers in enforcing his health care law. Democrats have branded the effort a political charade aimed at stirring up Republican voters for the fall congressional elections. They say it's also an effort by top Republicans to mollify conservatives who want Obama to be impeached — something Boehner said Tuesday he has no plans to do. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Md., joined by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., left, and Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, R-Mich., criticizes the efforts of Republicans to muscle legislation through the House authorizing an election-year lawsuit against President Barack Obama that accuses him of exceeding his powers in enforcing his health care law, Wednesday, July 30, 2014, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Democrats have branded the effort a political charade aimed at stirring up Republican voters for the fall congressional elections. They say it's also an effort by top Republicans to mollify conservatives who want Obama to be impeached — something House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, said Tuesday he has no plans to do. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, R-N.C., and Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., right, walks to the House chamber for votes as Republicans pushed a divided House Wednesday toward a campaign-season lawsuit against President Barack Obama, accusing him of deliberately exceeding the bounds of his constitutional authority, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, July 30, 2014. Democrats have branded the effort a political charade aimed at stirring up Republican voters for the fall congressional elections. They say it's also an effort by top Republicans to mollify conservatives who want Obama to be impeached — something Boehner said Tuesday he has no plans to do. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., listens to comments by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Md., as she and fellow Democrats criticize the efforts of Republicans to muscle legislation through the House authorizing an election-year lawsuit against President Barack Obama that accuses him of exceeding his powers in enforcing his health care law, Wednesday, July 30, 2014, during a news conference on Capitol in Washington. Democrats have branded the effort a political charade aimed at stirring up Republican voters for the fall congressional elections. They say it's also an effort by top Republicans to mollify conservatives who want Obama to be impeached — something House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Tuesday he has no plans to do. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, leads the the panel on procedural steps to authorize the House to seek a lawsuit against President Barack Obama for, as the resolution charges, failing to carry out his duties as required by the Constitution regarding the Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Republican leaders say Obama has violated his constitutional duty to faithfully execute the law, insisting that he has enforced laws as he wants to, dangerously shifting power to the presidency from Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee, joined at left by Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Mass., voices her concerns as the panel meets to take steps to authorize the House to initiate litigation against President Barack Obama for failing to carry out his duties as required by the Constitution regarding the Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, July 29, 2014. As the top Democrat on the Republican-run committee, Rep. Slaughter led the fight against the resolution. The measure passed and will now go to the floor. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, center, joined at right by Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., leads the the panel on procedural steps to authorize the House to seek a lawsuit against President Barack Obama for, as the resolution charges, failing to carry out his duties as required by the Constitution regarding the Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Republican leaders say Obama has violated his constitutional duty to faithfully execute the law, insisting that he has enforced laws as he wants to, dangerously shifting power to the presidency from Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, left, confers with Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., as the panel meets to take the procedural steps to authorize the House to seek a lawsuit against President Barack Obama for, as the resolution charges, failing to carry out his duties as required by the Constitution regarding the Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Republican leaders say Obama has violated his constitutional duty to faithfully execute the law, insisting that he has enforced laws as he wants to, dangerously shifting power to the presidency from Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, leads the the panel on procedural steps to authorize the House to seek a lawsuit against President Barack Obama for, as the resolution charges, failing to carry out his duties as required by the Constitution regarding the Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Republican leaders say Obama has violated his constitutional duty to faithfully execute the law, insisting that he has enforced laws as he wants to, dangerously shifting power to the presidency from Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Republican members of the House Rules Committee from left, Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, House Rules Committee Chairman Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, Rep. Rich Nugent, R-Fla., seated, and Rep. Daniel Webster, D-Fla., gather on Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, July 29, 2014, to take the procedural steps to authorize the House to initiate litigation against President Barack Obama for failing to carry out his duties as required by the Constitution regarding the Affordable Care Act. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Republican members of the House Rules Committee from left, Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, House Rules Committee Chairman Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, Rep. Rich Nugent, R-Fla., seated, and Rep. Daniel Webster, D-Fla., gather on Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, July 29, 2014, to take the procedural steps to authorize the House to initiate litigation against President Barack Obama for failing to carry out his duties as required by the Constitution regarding the Affordable Care Act. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio, joined by from left, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., incoming Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and House Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 29, 2014, following a Republican strategy session. Boehner discussed various topics including that he dismisses suggestions that Republicans are planning to impeach President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, arrives for a meeting of the Republican Conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 29, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio, arrives for a meeting of the Republican Conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 29, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio, joined at right by incoming Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Calif., and Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., talks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 23, 2014, following a Republican strategy session. House Republicans want to slash President Barack Obama's emergency spending request for the border, speed young migrants back home to Central America, and send in the National Guard. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
FILE - This July 22, 2014, file photo shows President Barack Obama as he departs the White House to board Marine One in Washington. The last time Republicans unleashed impeachment proceedings against a Democratic president, they lost House seats in an election they seemed primed to win handily. Memories of Bill Clinton and the campaign of 1998 may explain why Speaker John Boehner and the current GOP leadership want no part of such talk now. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
This photo taken July 15, 2014 shows House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaking at Republican National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Constitutional lawyers backing a planned House Republican lawsuit against President Barack Obama told a congressional committee Wednesday that the action is justified because Obama has exceeded his powers in carrying out his health care law. Attorneys allied with Democrats in opposing the election-year suit said it's the GOP that's going too far by trying to resolve a political dispute by handing the question to the federal courts to decide. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 10, 2014, during a news conference. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio presents Nina Lagergren with a Congressional Gold Medal posthumously on behalf of her half brother, Raoul Wallenberg, in honor of his heroism during the Holocaust on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Wallenberg's work as Sweden's envoy in Budapest in 1944 was a cover for a humanitarian mission as secret emissary of the U.S. War Refugee Board, created in an attempt to stem the annihilation of Europe's Jews. He saved at least 20,000 Jews in Budapest by giving them Swedish travel documents or moving them to safe houses and is also credited with dissuading German officers from massacring the 70,000 inhabitants of the city's ghetto. Others on stage are Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., left, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Md., second from left, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., center, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., third from right, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, speaks about immigration reform, Monday, June 30, 2014, in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington. House Speaker John Boehner told President Obama that the House will not vote on overhauling the nation’s troubled immigration system during this election year, the White House says. Officials say Obama will announce steps Monday to deal with immigration through executive actions without congressional approval. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Rep. Curt Clawson, R-Fla., center, participates in a ceremonial swearing-in with House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, left, and his mother, Cherie Clawson, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 25, 2014. Clawson won a special election in southwest Florida on Tuesday to replace former Rep. Trey Radel, who resigned in January after pleading guilty to cocaine possession. Clawson will now serve the remainder of Radel's term but must face voters again in November to win re-election. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, center, and the newly-reshuffled House Republican leadership meet with reporters for the first time without an appearance by Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., who was defeated in his primary earlier this month and consequently his position as majority leader, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. From left to right are Majority Leader-elect Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., the newly elected House GOP whip, Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., chair of the Republican Conference, and Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who is challenging Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., for his Senate seat. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, tells reporters that the United States should not be talking to Iran about a joint effort to help the Iraqi government battle insurgents who have been overrunning large swaths of that country, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, June 18, 2014. At right is Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind. Before heading to the White House to meet with President Barack Obama on the crisis, Boehner said that reaching out to Iran would be the wrong message to send U.S. allies in the Middle East, even as Iran is alleged to have sponsored terrorism in that region. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, arrives to make a statement about the Veterans Affairs health care scandal and the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, May 30, 2014. A government investigation this week confirmed broad and deep-seated problems in the sprawling health care system which provides medical care to about 6.5 million veterans annually. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, left, receives a gift from the President of the Portuguese parliament Assuncao Esteves before their meeting at the Portuguese parliament, in Lisbon, Thursday, April 17, 2014. Boehner is on visit in Lisbon as part of an international trip that includes Afghanistan and Abu Dhabi. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
From left, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Taoiseach Enda Kenny of Ireland, President Barack Obama, and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., walk down the steps of the House on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, March 14, 2014, following Friends of Ireland luncheon. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio calls Obamacare a monstrosity that was a factor in the Republicans winning a special congressional election in Florida this week, Thursday, March 13, 2014, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Boehner also said that jobs are the number one issue for most Americans. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Barack Obama meets with House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. The Democratic president and Republican speaker met in the Oval Office, their first meeting alone at the White House since December 2012, when they failed to reach agreement on tax reform and spending cuts during deficit-reduction talks. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio is surrounded by reporters as he returns to the Capitol, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014, following a meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
On the day of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, meets with reporters at Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, after a GOP strategy session. Eager not to be limited by the legislative gridlock that has plagued the divided Congress, Obama is expected to underscore a go-it-alone strategy where he could bypass lawmakers and use executive actions to achieve his policy proposals. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Vice President Joe Biden shakes hands with House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio before President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Jan. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 24: U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) answers questions during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol July 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. Boehner answered questions on a pending bill to address the problems with the Veterans Affairs administration and also issues related to immigration. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 11: Speaker John Boeher, R-Ohio, Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speak to the media before signing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, in the Capitol, July 11, 2014. The bipartisan legislation is intended to improve job training programs to help those who are out of work, re-enter the job market. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 11: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (R) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) await to sign bipartisan legislation Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. at the U.S. Capitol, July 11, 2014 in Washington, DC. Also pictured are Ranking Member of the House Education & Workforce Committee George Miller (D-CA) (2ndL), Chairman of the House Education & Workforce Committee John Kline (R-MN) (3rdL), Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC)(2nd-R) and Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX) (R). (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
US Vice President Joe Biden (L), Speaker of the House John Boehner (C), and Israeli President Shimon Peres (R) stand during the Presentation of the Colors by the US Armed Forces Color Guard during ceremonies presenting with the Congressional Gold Medal to Peres on June 26, 2014 inside the Rotunda of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 24: Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks to the media at the Republican National Committee following the House Republican Conference meeting on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
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WASHINGTON (AP) - A sharply divided House approved a Republican plan Wednesday to launch a campaign-season lawsuit against President Barack Obama, accusing him of exceeding the bounds of his constitutional authority. Obama and other Democrats derided the effort as a stunt aimed at tossing political red meat to conservative voters.

Just a day before lawmakers were to begin a five-week summer recess, debate over the proposed lawsuit underscored the harshly partisan tone that has dominated the current Congress almost from its start in January 2013.

House Authorizes Obama Lawsuit. What's The Next Step?

The vote to sue Obama was 225 to 201. Five conservative Republicans voted with Democrats in opposing the lawsuit: Reps. Paul Broun of Georgia, Scott Garrett of New Jersey, Walter Jones of North Carolina, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Steve Stockman of Texas. No Democrats voted for it.

Republicans said the legal action, focusing on Obama's implementation of his prized health care overhaul, was designed to prevent a further presidential power grab and his deciding unilaterally how to enforce laws.

"No member needs to be reminded about the bonds of trust that have been frayed or the damage that's already been done to our economy and to our people," declared House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. "Are you willing to let any president choose what laws to execute and what laws to change?"

Republicans also scoffed at Democratic claims that the lawsuit would be a waste of taxpayers' money.

"What price do you place on the continuation of our system of checks and balances? What price do you put on the Constitution of the United States?" said Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich. "My answer to each is 'priceless.'"

Democrats said the lawsuit would go nowhere and was designed only to encourage conservatives to vote in this November's congressional elections. They also warned repeatedly that it could be a precursor of a more drastic GOP effort. Said Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y.: "The lawsuit is a drumbeat pushing members of the Republican Party to impeachment."

In fact, Democrats already are using that argument to mine campaign contributions. House Democrats emailed one fundraising solicitation as debate was underway and another moments after the vote.

"The GOP is chomping at the bit to impeach the president," they wrote. "We've got to get the president's back."

Some prominent conservatives including former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin have called for Obama's impeachment, and some House GOP lawmakers have not ruled it out. Boehner has said he has no such plans and has called Democratic impeachment talk a "scam" to raise money.

"Impeachment is off the table. Why hasn't the speaker said that," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

On the road in Kansas City, Missouri, Obama cast the lawsuit as a "political stunt" and a distraction from the public's priorities.

"Every vote they're taking like that means a vote they're not taking to actually help you," he told his audience. He urged Republicans to "stop just hating all the time."

By suing Obama to demand that he carry out specific provisions of the 2010 health care overhaul, House Republicans would be asking the courts to hold him to the letter of a law that they all opposed and that the House has voted over 50 times to dismantle.

Republicans have accused Obama of exceeding his powers in a range of areas, saying he has enforced provisions he likes and ignored others.

These include not notifying Congress before releasing five Taliban members from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for captive Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, blocking the deportation of some children who are in the U.S. illegally and waiving some provisions of the No Child Left Behind education law.

Democrats say Obama has acted legally and has simply used the authority he has as chief executive.

Republicans have not laid out a timetable for actually filing the suit.

As for its chances of legal success, federal courts are often reluctant to intervene in disputes between the executive and legislative branches. For the suit to survive, the GOP would first have to prove that the House had been injured by Obama's actions. And even if the lawsuit was heard, it is unclear whether it could be decided while Obama was still in office.

Timothy K. Lewis, a former judge in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who was nominated by former President George H.W. Bush, said that with appeals, it would take at least one-and-a-half to two years for the suit to wind through the federal judicial system.

Obama leaves office in January 2017.

Republicans have particularly objected that Obama has twice delayed the law's so-called employer mandate. The provision requires companies with 50 or more employees working at least 30 hours weekly to offer health care coverage or pay fines, while businesses with fewer than 50 workers are exempt.

The requirement was initially to take effect this year. Now, companies with 50 to 99 employees have until 2016 to comply while bigger companies have until next year.

Democrats warned that the lawsuit could cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Republicans provided no specifics about the potential price tag, but the measure would allow House attorneys to hire outside lawyers and require quarterly public reports on expenditures.

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