DOJ asks for extension in ObamaCare lawsuit due to shutdown

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is asking a federal judge to pause all briefings related to a motion filed by House Democrats in an ongoing ObamaCare lawsuit, saying they cannot complete their work properly due to the government shutdown.

Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt said DOJ lawyers “are unable to prepare their opposition at this time due to the lapse in appropriations.”

The motion was filed on Friday but appeared in the docket on Monday.

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Last week, House Democrats officially filed a motion asking the court to allow the House to intervene as a defendant in a Republican-led lawsuit against ObamaCare, alongside a group of Democratic state attorneys general, since the Trump administration has declined to defend the law.

The federal government opposes the motion. Their opposition, as well as the other parties’ responses, is currently due on Jan. 24, but DOJ attorneys are not permitted to work during the shutdown.

The DOJ’s motion is not likely to impact the case, but it’s a further example of the wide-ranging impact of the government shutdown, which is now into its third week.

The lawsuit in question was filed last year by 20 GOP-led states seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act. A federal judge in Texas last month ruled in the states’ favor, saying ObamaCare is unconstitutional. The ruling, though, will not take effect while it is appealed.

Hunt wrote that DOJ “greatly” regrets “any disruption caused to the Court and the other litigants.”