Panel approves Boehner lawsuit

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The House Rules Committee on Thursday approved a resolution that would authorize Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) lawsuit against President Obama over his use of executive power.

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The panel voted along party lines to move forward with legal against Obama over his delay of the healthcare law's employer mandate, which Republicans say was outside his authority as president.

The House is expected to approve the lawsuit before lawmakers leave town next week for a five-week summer recess.

The final vote is likely to be contentious, as Democrats have portrayed the lawsuit as a "political stunt" intended to channel GOP opposition to ObamaCare ahead of the midterm elections.

House Democrats are turning the lawsuit into election fodder as well, with their campaign arm on Thursday launching a grassroots call drive aimed at hitting Republicans in 18 districts for spending "millions of taxpayer dollars on a frivolous lawsuit."  

The Rules Committee must take one final step before the floor vote by approving a rule governing the measure as it heads to the floor. That meeting is expected on Tuesday or Wednesday, with a final vote by the full chamber likely closing the session on Thursday.

Republicans and Democrats clashed heatedly over the intent of Boehner's lawsuit during the markup Thursday.

"This has nothing to do with the law. This has everything to do with trying to manage some of the extremists in your party — some of the cuckoo clocks that are talking about impeachment [of Obama]," said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.).

"This is about politics. Let's admit that and treat this for what it is, because I think the American people are sick and tired of these endless investigations," he said.

Republicans expressed dismay over the term "cuckoo clocks" and frustration with Democrats' lack of interest invoking the courts to rule on the current balance of power between the executive and legislative branches.

"It is incredibly frustrating to me that we can call the defense of … Congress a 'political stunt,'" said Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.).

"We have an obligation to get this done and get this done as best we can. … To suggest that standing up for the power that is not ours, but is the people's, is a political stunt is troubling to me," he said.

"I would not like to see my side refer to people on your side as cuckoo," added Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas). 

The resolution underwent only one change during the roughly two-hour long markup.

New language from Rep. Rich Nugent (R-Fla.) will require the House Administration Committee to print a quarterly statement in the Congressional Record saying how much is spent for the lawsuit on outside counsel and experts.

The amendment — Republicans' sole proposed change — was approved unanimously by voice vote.

Democrats went on to propose 11 amendments, including one to require weekly reporting of expenses related to the lawsuit. Each was voted down along party lines.

— This story was updated at 12:50 p.m.

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