House Speaker John Boehner just hurled Obamacare’s employer mandate back into the spotlight by making it the centerpiece of his lawsuit against the president.
Boehner released a draft resolution Thursday evening authorizing the litigation which challenges President Obama’s decision to unilaterally delay the employer mandate--a key Obamacare provision requiring companies with more than 50 full-time employees to offer health coverage to their workers or pay a penalty.
The administration infuriated Republicans last summer when it bypassed Congress to delay the employer mandate for all companies until January 2015. Earlier this year, HHS officials announced they would push back the mandate for mid-sized companies with between 50 and 99 workers until January 2016.
“The president changed the health care law without a vote of Congress, effectively creating his own law by literally waiving the employer mandate and the penalties for failing to comply with it," Boehner said. "That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work. No president should have the power to make laws on his or her own."
Boehner announced last week that he would be suing President Obama for the president’s executive overreach, but until Thursday he had not specified what specifically he planned to challenge. Though many were speculating it would revolve around president’s recent use of executive orders, a leadership aide said the president’s actions to delay the employer mandate went further than issuing an executive order.
“The president likes to create straw men. We aren’t arguing that the president shouldn’t be able to issue executive orders; all presidents can and should be able to do that,” a leadership aide said. “We’re arguing that the president shouldn’t be able to make his own laws, as he did in the case of the suspension of the employer mandate. It’s a very important distinction, a point that Boehner made today.”
The decision for Republicans to target the delay of the employer mandate is interesting since overturning the delay would speed up implementation of a major provision of Obamacare—the law the GOP has worked so hard to try to undermine.
Still, Boehner said the lawsuit was “borne out of "an obligation to stand up for the Legislative Branch."
After the administration announced the first delay to the mandate last summer, House Republicans held their own vote to delay the mandate as a political stunt to show their displeasure with the administration for going around Congress.
“The idea that the president can merely go out there and make a decision about what he’s going to enforce and he isn’t going to enforce is fundamentally wrong,” Boehner said at the time.
President Obama laughed off Boehner’s lawsuit.
"You're going to sue me for doing my job?" Obama asked during a speech in Austin, Texas. "OK. I mean, think about that. You're going to use taxpayer money to sue me for doing my job — while you don't do your job."
Democrats are parroting Obama’s remarks—accusing Boehner and Republicans of wasting tax dollars on the lawsuit.
"They’ve wasted billions of taxpayer dollars forcing a downgrade of the U.S. economy and a shutdown of the federal government, and now, after wasting millions defending discrimination in the federal courts, the resolution unveiled tonight would authorize hiring more partisan lawyers for yet another legal boondoggle doomed to fail," Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said.
Top Reads from the Fiscal Times: