WASHINGTON — House Republicans have filed a lawsuit regarding President Barack Obama’s “unilateral actions” on health care, Speaker John Boehner announced Friday.
“Time after time, the president has chosen to ignore the will of the American people and re-write federal law on his own without a vote of Congress. That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work. If this president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well. The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution, and that is exactly why we are pursuing this course of action,” Boehner said in a statement.
News of the lawsuit came just minutes after Boehner held a news conference Friday to respond to the president’s plan to circumvent Congress in order to make sweeping changes to the nation’s immigration system by executive order.
Boehner said Congress “will not stand idle as the president undermines the rule of law, ” but gave no specifics on how congressional Republicans would respond to the president’s executive action.
The one-two punch from Boehner marks a new era of tension between Republicans, who will officially take over Congress in January, and the president, who has signaled that despite his party’s losses in the midterms, he plans to proceed his agenda without GOP cooperation.
Boehner told reporters that by moving ahead with unilateral action, the president chose to “deliberately sabotage any chance of enacting bipartisan reform that he claims to seek.”
In a less than five minute news conference on Capitol Hill, the speaker said he told the president on Thursday “he’s damaging the presidency itself.”
Pressed if congressional Republicans would try to block the president’s executive actions by moving legislation to strip funding from federal agencies, Boehner sidestepped the question and instead said he was reviewing various actions with his members.
“The House will in fact act,” the speaker promised.
Because of deep divisions inside the House GOP conference there is no consensus yet on how to try to block the president’s plan to allow as many as 5 million immigrants temporary status.
Many conservatives want to attach a provision to a must pass spending bill to strip funding for federal agencies to carry out the president’s plan.
But the chairman of the spending panel argues that is impossible because the customs agency is self-funded through fees and doesn’t need congressional appropriations.
And many Republicans on Capitol Hill worry another fight on a spending bill will lead to another government shutdown. Others are pushing to sue the president, or vote on censuring him.
The clock is ticking for Boehner — government agencies run out of money on Dec. 11.