GOP questions legality of mandate order

Republicans on Wednesday questioned whether the administration has the legal authority to delay the employer mandate under ObamaCare.

Two top GOP lawmakers expressed doubts that federal officials have the authority to defer major parts of ObamaCare without approval from Congress.

Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Education and Workforce Health subcommittee, said he would launch his own investigation into the matter. 

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"This action raises a lot of questions about whether the Obama administration can simply ignore the law when it’s convenient for them," Roe said in a statement Wednesday.

"I have asked Congress’s research arm to investigate because I don’t think any president has the authority to pick and choose what parts of law to follow," he added.

The Obama administration announced Tuesday night that it would put off enforcing the employer mandate until 2015 rather than next year.

The rule requires that businesses with more than 50 employees provide health insurance or pay fines. It had been criticized by the business community as onerous and hastily implemented.

Groups representing employers cheered the development on Tuesday, and Republican lawmakers welcomed the news as evidence that the healthcare law is unworkable.

Roe and House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) indicated Republicans would pursue questions about the legality of the move.

"It is unclear that [President Obama] has the authority to do this without Congress," Issa said in a statement Tuesday night.

"This is another in a string of extra legal actions taken by his administration to mask the horrible impact his law will have."

The executive branch has wide discretion when issuing regulations, but often comes under heavy criticism for missing the deadlines that lawmakers set in legislation.

The administration has missed many of the deadlines for implementing both ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

— This story was updated at 2:41 p.m.