House Republicans filed their long-anticipated lawsuit against the Obama administration on Friday, claiming the White House abused executive authority by acting independently of Congress on parts of the Affordable Care Act.
The complaint alleges the administration unlawfully delayed the implementation of a mandate that large employers provide health insurance to their employees and will illegally give $175 million over the next 10 years to insurance companies under a cost-sharing program.
"Time after time, the president has chosen to ignore the will of the American people and rewrite federal law on his own without a vote of Congress," Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. "If this president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well. The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution, and that is exactly why we are pursuing this course of action."
The suit, filed against the secretaries of Health and Human Services and the Treasury, alleges that Obama's decision to twice waive the employer mandate's start date and waive penalties on employers was not in accordance with the language of the law.
The suit also claims Congress never appropriated the money the administration is using to make direct payments to insurers to defray the expense of providing cost-sharing benefits to the insured. The law required insurers to provide reduced deductibles, copays and coinsurance to some qualified beneficiaries.
The House voted this summer to authorize the suit against Obama.
Notably, the lawsuit does not target the executive action Obama announced Thursday night that would grant legal status to more than 4 million undocumented immigrants. Boehner is considering suing Obama over that issue as well, but would need to hold a second vote to authorize it.
The House is being represented by George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley. He is the third lawyer to take on the case, after two previous attorneys dropped the suit.
The White House quickly criticized the suit Friday.
"Instead of passing legislation to help expand the middle class and grow the economy, Speaker Boehner and House Republicans are spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars pursuing a lawsuit that is without any sound legal basis," said White House spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi lashed out at Republicans, saying they are "prioritizing the special interests and the howls of impeachment-hungry extremists" in pursuing the lawsuit.
"After scouring Washington for months, Republicans have finally found a TV lawyer to file their meritless lawsuit," Pelosi said in a statement. "While the American people want Congress to get serious about creating good-paying jobs and strengthening the middle class, House Republicans are paying $500-an-hour in taxpayer money to sue the President of the United States."
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.
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Daniel Newhauser is a staff correspondent for National Journal, where he primarily covers the House of Representatives. He was formerly a House leadership reporter for Roll Call, where he started as an intern in 2010 and quickly earned a slot as a beat reporter.
A native of San Antonio, Texas, Newhauser traveled further West to study journalism at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and write for newspapers including the East Valley Tribune and the Green Valley News & Sun.