By Justin Sink
Republicans have "shifted their opposition into a higher gear" with Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) planned lawsuit against President Obama, the White House said Wednesday.
"Frankly it's a gear I didn't know existed," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. "The fact they are considering a taxpayer-funded lawsuit against the president of the United States is a step that I think most of the American people wouldn't support."
“We feel completely confident that the president was operating within his authority,” he said. "I am not sure what the strategy is behind the House Republican announcement today.”
Earnest added that the lawsuit is not something that will consume the attention of the White House.
Earnest accused Republican leaders of "lapsing into these kind of tactics" that have ground Capitol Hill to a halt, and said the lawsuit was "frankly not the way to go."
The spokesman said that the president preferred "that we be able to find opportunities" to work with Congress, calling legislation the "focal point of the president's domestic agenda." But, he said, the president has also looked for opportunities to act where Congress has not.
Earlier Wednesday, Boehner told reporters on Capitol Hill he would file the lawsuit because he believes the president has not been “faithfully executing the laws of our country."
“This is about defending the institution in which we serve,” he said. “You know, if you look back over the last 235 years of our history, there’s been a movement between the inherent powers of the executive branch and the inherent powers of the legislative branch.
“And what we’ve seen clearly over the last five years is an effort to erode the power of the legislative branch,” the Speaker continued. “I believe the president is not faithfully executing the laws of our country, and on behalf of the institution and the Constitution, standing up and fighting for this is in the best long-term interest of the Congress.”
Boehner did not immediately say which of the president's recent executive actions he would be challenging in court.
Republicans have complained vocally about delays the Obama administration imposed unilaterally during the implementation of the Affordable Care Act as well as the president's move to allow some immigrant children who entered the country illegally to remain under a deferred action program.
Earnest would not say if Boehner told Obama about the plans when the Speaker visited the White House for a golf event on Tuesday afternoon.
—This report was updated at 1:46 p.m.