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Policy: Labor

Not backing down: Obama to issue another executive action

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,Labor,John Boehner,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,Constitution,Executive Action

President Obama is following through with a threat to issue more executive actions, not fewer, one day after House Republicans moved forward with their lawsuit challenging the president’s unilateral policy-making.

White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said on Thursday Obama would issue an executive order aimed at “cracking down on federal contractors who put workers’ safety and heard-earned pay at risk.”

Pfeiffer made the statement in an email sent to supporters blasting the GOP-led House for wasting valuable legislative time this week by holding the vote on the lawsuit, which passed the House 225-201, with only Republicans voting in favor.

“This is the least productive Congress in decades,” Pfeiffer said. “And instead of doing their job, they are suing the president for doing his.”

The executive order will force companies in the market for federal contracts of more than $500,000 to publicly disclose any labor-law violations over the last three years. The administration believes the new law will motivate companies to resolve conflicts with workers.

The action would also help push more disputes into the courtroom by barring companies pursuing government contracts from forcing workers to agree to mandatory arbitration. That part of the new law only deals with new government contracts more than $1 million and would apply to disputes that fall under the anti-discrimination section of the Civil Rights Act or to accusations of sexual harassment or assault.

Pfeiffer last Friday said Obama would respond to the lawsuit by directing officials in different departments across the administration look for more executive actions he could take.

“We’re certainly aren’t going to trim our sails,” Pfeiffer told reporters gathered for a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

Republicans argue that Obama is abusing his executive power by bypassing Congress and acting on his own on certain policy priorities. The lawsuit specifically challenges the administration’s decision to delay for a year the cancellation of insurance policies that don’t meet Obamacare’s new requirements.

It also targets the administration’s one-year delay of its employer mandate, which requires businesses to provide insurance or pay a penalty.

While Thursday's executive order is limited in scope, after Labor Day Obama is expected to take a far more far-reaching unilateral action lowering the number of illegal immigrants the law requires to be deported. That action could provide safe harbor for 4 to 8 million of the 11 million illegal immigrants who are estimated to reside in the country.

When Obama changed the law without going through Congress, Republicans contend, he violated a section of the Constitution requiring the president to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

Before the House vote Thursday, House Speaker Boehner defended the lawsuit in a statement on the House floor.

“No member of this body needs to be reminded of what the Constitution states about the president’s obligation to faithfully execute the laws of our nation…,” he said. “Are you willing to let any president choose what laws to execute and what laws to change? Are you willing to let anyone tear apart what our Founders have built?”

This story is based in part on a wire report.

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