Boehner Insists Lawsuit Against Obama ‘Not About Impeachment’
(WASHINGTON) -- House Speaker John Boehner says he will sue President Obama, contending that the president is not faithfully executing the law. “The Constitution makes it clear that a president’s job is to faithfully execute the laws,” said Boehner, R-Ohio. “In my view, the president has not faithfully executed the laws.”
Boehner is preparing to ask the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, known as BLAG, to file a lawsuit to counter Obama’s executive actions. BLAG consists of the senior echelon of House leadership whose responsibilities under House rules include instructing the non-partisan office of the House General Counsel to take legal action on behalf of the lower chamber.
Boehner refused to disclose on Wednesday which executive actions the House would challenge.
“We have a system of government outlined in our Constitution with the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judicial branch,” he said. “Congress has its job to do and so does the president and when there’s conflicts like this between the legislative branch and the administrative branch, it’s in my view our responsibility to stand up for this institution in which we serve.”
Throughout his two terms in the Oval Office, Obama has irked Republicans with executive actions halting deportations of immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, raising the minimum wage for federal contractors and extending the family and medical leave benefits to gay couples. He has also unilaterally delayed legislative deadlines for enacting provisions of the Affordable Care Act, such as putting off enforcement of the employer mandate.
Still, Boehner insisted his move is not about setting a course towards impeaching the president.
“This is not about impeachment,” Boehner said. “This is about his faithfully executing the laws of our country.”
A spokesman of the speaker said that Boehner only hoped to compel Obama to enforce a number of laws, which are expected to be disclosed in the coming days.
The group consists of the speaker (Boehner), the majority leader (Rep. Kevin McCarthy), the majority whip/majority leader-elect (Rep. Kevin McCarthy), the minority leader (Rep. Nancy Pelosi) and the minority whip (Rep. Steny Hoyer). Only a simple majority is required.
It is unlikely Boehner will call the BLAG to meet to vote prior to the congressional recess surrounding Independence Day.
In 2011, Boehner last convened the BLAG to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). That effort ultimately failed, after the House spent about $2.3 million on legal representation before abandoning the defense.
Pelosi indicated she would oppose any effort to sue the president through the BLAG, calling the move “subterfuge” from Republicans hoping to distract voters from a legislative lull at the Capitol.
“They’re doing nothing here, and so they have to give some aura of activity,” said Pelosi, D-Calif. “Whatever the subject happens to be of the week, you can just go on the Internet and you can see what they’re screaming about there. You know there’ll be a reflection of it here.”
Pelosi asserted that Obama’s use of executive actions “hasn’t come anywhere near what Republican presidents have done” and expressed favor for a “broader interpretations of the law” than the White House counsel’s office has advised.
“The Republicans are saying they want to sue the president for not upholding the law. The president is looking at what his discretion is to use executive act of the administration,” Pelosi said. “[Obama] will act within his discretion for whatever it is, whether it’s prosecutorial discretion used to make judgments about who should be deported or not, and whatever else.”
“I don’t equate the Republicans ‘make work’ project to criticize the president on executive orders and are criticizing that as inconsistent with saying the president has the right to do what the law allows him to do,” she added.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest was dismissive of Boehner’s lawsuit, calling it “not something that’s going to consume the attention of the White House.”
“The fact that they are considering a taxpayer-funded lawsuit against the president of the United States for doing his job, I think, is the kind of step that most Americans wouldn't support,” Earnest said Wednesday. “I think what most Americans would say is they want their leaders in Washington, D.C., to make progress on behalf of the American people.”
Earnest said that a suit would not “be very warmly received by the American public.”
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