Boehner suit targets ObamaCare delay

 

Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) lawsuit against President Obama will focus on the delay of the employer mandate in ObamaCare, according to a draft resolution authorizing the litigation released Thursday.
 

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The lawsuit will challenge the administration's decision to unilaterally delay a requirement that firms offer health insurance to their employees or pay a penalty, Boehner said in a statement.
 
“The president changed the healthcare law without a vote of Congress, effectively creating his own law by literally waiving the employer mandate and the penalties for failing to comply with it," Boehner said. "That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work. No president should have the power to make laws on his or her own."
 
Under the law, employers with more than 50 full-time workers offer health insurance or pay a penalty. But earlier this year, federal health officials announced that employers with between 50 and 99 workers have until January 2016 to comply with the requirement to offer health insurance or pay a fine.
 
That was on top of a previous delay in July 2013, which pushed back implementation of the penalty for all impacted companies until January 2015.
 
Boehner said the lawsuit was borne out of "an obligation to stand up for the Legislative Branch."
 
"The current president believes he has the power to make his own laws — at times even boasting about it," Boehner said. "He has said that if Congress won’t make the laws he wants, he’ll go ahead and make them himself, and in the case of the employer mandate in his health care law, that’s exactly what he did. If this president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well."

The White House panned the lawsuit as a "political stunt" that will waste taxpayer dollars.

"At a time when Washington should be working to expand economic opportunities for the middle class, Republican leaders in Congress are playing Washington politics rather than working with the President on behalf of hardworking Americans," said White House press secretary Josh Earnest in a statement.

"As the President said today, he is doing his job — lawsuit or not — and it’s time Republicans in Congress did theirs."
 
Former White House press secretary Jay Carney defended the legality of delaying the mandate at a press conference last year. He said those who viewed such an action as usual were "willfully ignorant."
 
"The ability to postpone the deadline is clear," Carney said, telling reporters to "read the Federal Register," the official docket for federal regulations, to survey similar examples of delays.
 
"The fact of the matter is this is not unusual, and it is evidence of the kind of flexibility and deference to the concerns and interests of, in this case, a small percentage of American businesses with more than 50 employees that you would think Republicans would support," Carney said.
 
Earlier Thursday, Obama mocked Boehner's proposed lawsuit during a speech in Austin, Texas.
 
"You're going to sue me for doing my job?" Obama said. "OK. I mean, think about that. You're going to use taxpayer money to sue me for doing my job — while you don't do your job."

Obama was asked specifically about the constitutionality of the delay during a 2013 interview with The New York Times.

"If Congress thinks that what I’ve done is inappropriate or wrong in some fashion, they’re free to make that case," Obama said. "But there’s not an action that I take that you don't have some folks in Congress who say that I'm usurping my authority."

Obama added that some lawmakers "think I usurp my authority by having the gall to win the presidency."

"But ultimately, I’m not concerned about their opinions," he added. "Very few of them, by the way, are lawyers, much less constitutional lawyers."

Republicans have voted to repeal the employer mandate entirely, arguing that it unfairly burdens businesses and will restrict growth. But Boehner aides disputed any irony in suing the president to implement an ObamaCare provision that they do not support.

"We still oppose it, but there was a deadline written into the law, and he's not allowed to change the law unilaterally," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel tweeted. 

— This story was last updated at 6:45 p.m.

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