CREDIT: White House/Pete Souza
The U.S. House of Representatives voted 225 to 201 on Wednesday to authorize Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) to sue President Barack Obama and others in his administration for failure to fully implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. Ironically, all of those Republicans voting for a lawsuit to force faster implementation of the healthcare reform law have repeatedly backed its full repeal. Five Republicans joined every Democrat present in opposing the measure.
The resolution gives Boehner the authority to file or intervene federal court cases “to seek any appropriate relief regarding the failure of the President, the head of any department or agency, or any other officer or employee of the executive branch, to act in a manner consistent with that official’s duties under the Constitution and laws of the United States” relating to failure to implement provisions of Obamacare. ” The aim of this, Boehner has stated, is to sue the Obama for “his decision to extend — twice — the deadline to institute the employer mandate in his health care law.”
The administration has delayed the provisions — which requires employers with more than 50 employees to pay a fine if they don’t offer affordable quality coverage — citing complaints from firms that claimed they wouldn’t be ready to meet its requirement by 2014.
The administration claimed justified the delays under the Treasury Department’s “transition relief” authority, which allows the government to grant relief by section 7805(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, and noted President George W. Bush’s administration also cited the authority to delay implementation of laws. “The authority has been used to postpone the application of new legislation on a number of prior occasions across Administrations,” Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy Mark J. Mazur noted in a July 2013 letter to the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Though the House’s GOP majority made the lawsuit a priority on Wednesday, it has not found time to vote on popular bipartisan Senate-passed legislation including a ban on anti-LGBT employment discrimination and comprehensive immigration reform. The leadership had previously promised that the House would take up immigration reform with a “step-by-step, common-sense approach.” The vote also comes as the House and Senate struggle to reach agreement on time-sensitive concerns including highway funding and unaccompanied minors.