GOP scores early win in ObamaCare lawsuit

A federal district judge on Wednesday delivered a blow to the Obama administration, ruling that the House Republican lawsuit against ObamaCare can move forward.

“The Court concludes that the House has standing to pursue those constitutional claims,” Judge Rosemary Collyer wrote in a 43-page decision.

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The ruling is an early victory for Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerIn House GOP, Ryan endorsement of Trump seen as inevitable House 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 MORE (R-Ohio), who has repeatedly touted the lawsuit to his conference. It also gives new hope to Republicans who have been so far stymied in their efforts to dismantle the five-year-old healthcare law.

“I am grateful to the Court for ruling that this historic overreach can be challenged by the coequal branch of government with the sole power to create or change the law,” BoehnerJohn BoehnerIn House GOP, Ryan endorsement of Trump seen as inevitable House 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 MORE wrote in a statement Wednesday.

Still, the court cautioned that Wednesday’s ruling should not be seen as a sign that either side will win the case.

“The Court stresses that the merits have not been briefed or decided; only the question of standing has been determined,” Collyer wrote.

The Obama administration said it plans to immediately appeal the decision.

"The district court’s decision is unprecedented and the Department of Justice has indicated it plans to seek immediate appellate review," spokeswoman Jen Friedman wrote in a statement to The Hill. 


"This case is just another partisan attack, and we believe that ultimately the courts will dismiss it for what it is — an inappropriate attempt to involve the judiciary in disputes between the other branches," she wrote.

Boehner will now be able to pursue some, though not all, of the claims in his lawsuit.

The court ruled that Boehner can challenge the Obama administration for its use of executive power in spending “billions of unappropriated dollars”  to support the healthcare law.

House Republicans have argued that the Obama administration illegally overstepped its powers when it began paying $175 billion to insurance companies with money that was requested — but never approved — by Congress.

Instead, the administration began making its own payments into a “cost-sharing” program that helps cover insurance companies’ costs of covering the newly insured.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who is named in the case along with Treasury Secretary Jack LewJack LewCEO group urges Congress to act on proposed tax rules IRS doubted legality of ObamaCare payments, former official says Overnight Finance: GOP makes its case for impeaching IRS chief | Clinton hits Trump over housing crash remarks | Ryan's big Puerto Rico win MORE, has argued that the separate pool of funds was intended to “to improve the efficiency in the administration of subsidy payments.”

Collyer rejected the second piece of the GOP’s lawsuit, in which Boehner contested the Department of the Treasury’s decision to waive a requirement for employers to provide health insurance without consulting Congress.

The House’s claims “concern only the implementation of a statute, not adherence to any specific constitutional requirement,” Collyers wrote in dismissing the claim.

The Obama administration has blasted the GOP lawsuit as a last-ditch effort to attack the healthcare law after years of failed attempts both in Congress and in the courts. It has argued that the case has no legal precedent and that Boehner lacks jurisdiction.

Collyers acknowledged that any decision in the case would be politically explosive. Still, she maintained that the legal decision only signifies that courts have the right to hear the case, and does not weigh in on what she described as a “quintessentially political fight.”

“Despite its potential political ramifications, this suit remains a plain dispute over a constitutional command, of which the Judiciary has long been the ultimate interpreter.”

- This story was last updated at 6:06 p.m.