A federal judge on Thursday ruled in favor of House Republicans in their lawsuit against the Obama administration over ObamaCare.
In a major ruling, Judge Rosemary Collyer, an appointee of President George W. Bush, said the administration does not have the power to spend money on "cost sharing reduction payments" to insurers without an appropriation from Congress.
Collyer's decision doesn't immediately go into effect, however, so that the administration can appeal it.
The House GOP argued that the administration was unconstitutionally spending money on these payments without Congress's approval.
But the administration said it did not need an appropriation from Congress because the funds were already guaranteed by the healthcare reform law in the same section as its better-known tax credits that help people pay for coverage.
Collyer ruled that the section only appropriated funds for tax credits and said the cost sharing reductions require a separate congressional appropriation, which the administration does not currently have.
“Such an appropriation cannot be inferred,” Collyer wrote. “None of Secretaries’ extra-textual arguments — whether based on economics, ‘unintended’ results, or legislative history — is persuasive. The Court will enter judgment in favor of the House of Representatives and enjoin the use of unappropriated monies to fund reimbursements due to insurers under Section 1402.”
Earnest said Republicans are trying to "refight a political fight that they keep losing. They've been losing this fight for six years, and they'll lose it again."
"This suit represents the first time in our nation's history that Congress has been permitted to sue the executive branch over a disagreement about how to interpret a statute," he said.
Jordan Fabian contributed.
Updated at 2:56 p.m.