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Judge digs deeper into House GOP’s lawsuit against Obama


A federal judge who is hearing a lawsuit from House Republicans against President Obama is requesting more information about a funding dispute at the center of the case.

The House argues the president overstepped his executive authority by using money for ObamaCare that was not appropriated by Congress.

The administration initially requested the funds to be appropriated for the healthcare law, but says it later realized the money was already available under permanent mandatory spending. 

{mosads}The funding question is at the heart of House v. Burwell, a case that is now in the hands of Judge Rosemary Collyer, an appointee of former President George W. Bush.

Collyer appeared skeptical last week of the administration’s request to dismiss the lawsuit, which House Republicans brought forward to challenge Obama’s use of executive power.

Now she is requesting more information to help sort out the competing claims.

Collyer asked for both sides to meet and submit a record of the requests and funding decisions in 2014 around the ObamaCare program, known as section 1402, which makes payments to insurers to help cover expenses associated with low-income households.

She asks for the record by June 15, including “any action by Defendant(s) to withdraw the funding request for Section 1402, with supporting documentation.”

The administration last week asked Collyer to dismiss the lawsuit. Justice Department attorney Joel McElvain argued the House lacked standing, meaning there is no particular harm to the House and the body is, therefore, ineligible to bring the suit. 

But Collyer had pressed McElvain about the facts of the spending dispute, indicating that there could be harm to the House if the administration had ignored its funding decisions. 

“I want to know where you find the appropriation,” Collyer pressed McElvain last week.

McElvain claimed the money did not need to be appropriated separately and that it comes from permanent mandatory funds, a “pre-existing permanent appropriation.”

Collyer challenged that idea. “There was a request and the House said, no money,” she said.

If the funding dispute really is abstract and generalized, “you’re probably right” that the House has no standing, Collyer said.

“I just can’t decide whether that’s actually a fair statement,” she said.

The lawsuit stems from the House’s vote in July to bring the legal action, and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has tied to it to broader objections about Obama’s executive actions in other areas, like immigration, as well. 

The White House last week said U.S. residents don’t want to revisit disputes from years ago and called the suit “a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars.”

Tags Boehner John Boehner

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