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

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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liquidwallpaper July 30 2014 at 8:31 PM

They can't get together to do something about the immigration problem but they can move to sue the president???? Is it just me of our taxpayer dollars really being wasted here? This has gotten so out of hand that the GOP has become a joke without a punch line. Fire the whole lot of these idiots and start fresh.

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47 replies
sallyanncohen July 30 2014 at 8:34 PM

Good for the House -- now we need to pink slip all Senate Dems up for re-election so that Mr. Reid will no longer be holding up 360 bills passed by the House which would help the nation's economy and middle class. The lawsuit is very targeted at the changes Mr. Obama made to the health law that all his congressional Democrats passed and that he signed. I am proud that finally Congress is paying attention to the laws this president is not following. The states should also sue Mr. Obama to pay for the illegals that their taxpayers will be paying for -- since once again Mr. Obama is refusing to enforce the immigration laws. Those in Kansas who attended his latest selfie with all the laughing and ridiculous comments should take a good look at why they ever voted for him -- political hate speech by BO all the time --- no ability to unite this country.

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48 replies
nurfaceart July 30 2014 at 8:30 PM

Republicans continue to waste taxpayer's money knowing that this will never make it beyond their own vote!

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34 replies
jmsgrowl July 30 2014 at 7:54 PM

Is there no end to the charades employed to avoid doing their jobs? I am SO disgusted. I'd never have gotten away with this dereliction of my duties so why should they? John Boehner definitely under someboys thumb, but who?

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50 replies
Hola Tavo July 30 2014 at 8:33 PM

At least, Pst. Obama did not lie to the world to justify invading a country which was not a threat, nor is he responsible fo the deaths of 4,500+ US soldiers, thousands wounded and wasted billions. And you want my vote???

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41 replies
mikesells4u July 30 2014 at 8:36 PM

It's about time the House did something about the President and his continual over reach of powers he does not have by Constitutional authority.

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34 replies
Scooter July 30 2014 at 8:36 PM

Who elected this Boehner character in the first place? He always looks like he just fell off the wagon. Always!!!

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26 replies
pottshosp July 30 2014 at 8:34 PM

Hello: Sue him! We should hang the damn SOB

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46 replies
grizzelbuck July 30 2014 at 8:31 PM

Jobs, jobs, jobs! For lawyers, lawyers, lawyers!

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7 replies
yum8109148 July 30 2014 at 11:17 PM

Add a comment...The Court should punish the GOP for this ridiculous law suit and award Obama with another term.

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16 replies
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