By Alexander Bolton - 12/04/13 06:00 AM EST
Republican lawmakers bashed the Obama administration at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday for opting not to enforce core parts of the Affordable Care Act, such as minimum requirements for individual healthcare plans.
Rep. Trent FranksTrent FranksDems: House GOP just like Trump Supreme Court wrestles with corruption law House GOP reignites push for budget plan MORE (Ariz.), the chairman of the Judiciary panel’s Constitution and Civil Justice subcommittee, said Congress should sue the administration to spur Obama to enforce the healthcare law as written.
“He simply embodies a breathtaking arrogance that ignores the law he’s sworn to uphold.”
But neither Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerHouse GOP faces dilemma on spending bills Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief fears sequestration's return MORE (R-Ohio) nor Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellOvernight Healthcare: Momentum on mental health? | Zika bills head to conference | Only 10 ObamaCare co-ops left Trump outlines ‘America First’ energy plan Senators hope for deal soon on mental health bill MORE (R-Ky.) has endorsed a potential lawsuit against the administration.
A spokesman for BoehnerJohn BoehnerHouse GOP faces dilemma on spending bills Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief fears sequestration's return MORE referred questions about a potential lawsuit to the House Judiciary panel.
A spokesman for McConnell did not respond to a request for comment.
Boehner and McConnell have taken on Obama in the courts. The Speaker took on the administration when it shifted its stance on the Defense of Marriage Act. McConnell filed an amicus brief on Obama’s use of recess appointees.
Republicans on the Judiciary Committee highlighted various laws Tuesday that the administration has declined to enforce, such as immigration law.
Obama announced during the 2012 presidential campaign that he would halt the deportation of law-abiding illegal immigrants who were brought to the country as children.
“Mr. Obama is unilaterally ignoring immigration law in many cases,” Franks said at Tuesday’s hearing.
Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) defended Obama’s action and noted at the hearing that he had three such immigrants working in his congressional office.
“They’re here. There are 11 million of them. Let’s figure out a way how we legalize their status,” he said
The administration has also eased off of prosecuting the federal prohibition against marijuana in states that have decriminalized the sale and use of the drug.
The administration announced over the summer it would reduce mandatory-minimum sentencing, and in September, Attorney General Eric HolderEric H. HolderEric Holder to headline fundraiser for Clinton The Hill's 12:30 Report The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE expanded mandatory-minimum sentencing relief.
Rep. Michele BachmannMichele BachmannChief strategist of pro-Trump super-PAC guilty in payment scandal GOP operative Ed Rollins joins pro-Trump super-PAC Michele Bachmann trolls Clinton on NYC subway MORE (R-Minn.) said last month she is discussing with several GOP colleagues the possibility of suing Obama over his decision to suspend the Affordable Care Act’s requirements for health insurance plans, which threatened to cause millions of people to lose their policies.
The congresswoman’s office told the MinnPost: “She and some of her colleagues have had discussions about the best recourse to put a stop to his unconstitutional actions.”
However, Sen. Mike LeeMike LeeOvernight Cybersecurity: Guccifer plea deal raises questions in Clinton probe Senate panel delays email privacy vote amid concerns Senate amendments could sink email privacy compromise MORE (R-Utah), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito while he was on the Third Circuit Court, is skeptical.
He said it would be difficult for Congress to demonstrate that it had legal standing to sue the administration for delaying ObamaCare’s employer mandate or allowing insurance companies to continue offering plans that did not meet the law’s requirements.
“There are a couple problems. The president and those who are advising him are very smart. They’ve made these executive modifications in areas where it may be difficult to find someone who can establish Article III standing,” he said.
“Take the one-year suspension of the employer mandate. Who’s injured by that?” he added. “Because these are one-year suspensions we’re looking at, it can be somewhat difficult to push through a piece of litigation in that one-year period.”
The danger potential GOP litigants face is that it would take far longer than a year to resolve their complaints in court, by which time the one-year suspension of the employer mandate or the health plan requirements would be moot.
Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzFiorina returns to attack Clinton's 'lust for power' Trump clinches GOP nomination Eleven states sue Obama over transgender bathroom directive MORE (R-Texas), another member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a former clerk to former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist hasn’t endorsed the legal option, either. He says it’s premature to discuss his next round of tactics for dismantling ObamaCare.
But Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Tuesday countered that Congress would have little recourse to curb Obama’s power if it could not use the courts.
“If we cannot go and get the court to decide the differences between the two branches then … the imperial presidency is complete,” he said.
Republicans on the Judiciary Committee warned Tuesday that Obama had dramatically expanded the powers of the presidency and eclipsed Congress’s authority.
Franks at Tuesday’s hearing pointed to other actions taken by the administration not based explicitly on laws passed by Congress.
He cited taxation of political contributions, political speech disclosures for federal contractors and the deep-water drilling ban.