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Why Republicans are suing President Obama

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Politics,Congress,Susan Ferrechio,Barack Obama,Obamacare,John Boehner,Health Care,PennAve,Employer Mandate,Law,Magazine

The Republican resistance to the 2010 health care law will take another twist this month when the House debates an unprecedented lawsuit against President Obama.

The authorization for the lawsuit, which does not need Senate approval, charges that the president's "unilateral actions" on the health care law went beyond his executive authority.

Speaker John Boehner cited the president's decision to delay an employer mandate, among various other changes the administration made when implementing the Affordable Care Act.

“That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work,” Boehner said. “No president should have the power to make laws on his or her own.”

The GOP has been complaining for years that Obama has overstepped his executive authority to make changes to laws, create new regulations and conduct important foreign policy operations without consulting Congress. Aides say the lawsuit has been in the works for months.

Republicans had considered including a half-dozen executive actions in the lawsuit. These included not only Obama's changes to the health care law, but also his decision in May to release five members of the Taliban from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

The GOP also believes Obama exceeded his executive authority in 2009 when he issued waivers to some states to exempt their school systems from unpopular provisions of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law as long as they implemented new measurement standards.

And every Republican and some Democrats oppose carbon emission regulations put in place by the Obama administration that threaten to decimate the coal industry and raise energy prices. Obama made the decision to act unilaterally on reducing carbon emissions after Congress failed to pass a sweeping energy reform bill in 2010.

In recent weeks, Republicans had also zeroed in on the president’s 2012 decision to change by executive signature the nation’s deportation policy so that people who arrived here illegally as children could remain in the United States for two years.

Many in the GOP blamed this program, called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, for the flood of unaccompanied minors crossing from Mexico into Texas.

Boehner told reporters this week that Obama's executive actions on immigration would be included in the court case, though he did not specifically say whether or not that included the deferred deportation program.

Some Republicans support the idea of allowing people who arrived legally as children to remain in the United States, including outgoing Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. But they wanted to make the change only if it were accompanied by stronger border security.

But only the employer mandate waiver made it into the lawsuit. In July 2013, Obama announced he would delay the employer mandate until 2015, a move critics say was made to dodge the 2014 election year.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said the list was reduced to the employer mandate in order to improve the strength of the case.

“There are many examples of executive overreach by the president, but his actions on the health care law are the ones that give the House the best chance of success in the courts,” Steel told the Washington Examiner.

The law requires employers with 50 or more workers to provide health insurance. The administration said it made the move to allow time to improve reporting requirements that businesses said were too burdensome.

The House is expected to vote on the resolution authorizing the lawsuit as early as next week.

Obama doesn't top the list of presidents who have used executive actions. In fact, he ranks below both Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. But Obama's use of executive authority has been far more significant and wide ranging, critics say.

“I do not view President Obama as a dictator,” liberal legal scholar and Obama supporter Jonathan Turley said during recent congressional testimony. “But I do view him as a danger in his aggregation of executive power.”

Democrats are building a case that Obama’s executive actions are no worse than moves made by his Republican predecessor.

George W. Bush mostly avoided wide-ranging or controversial executive actions, but he made generous use of signing statements, which, according to the Library of Congress, allow “interpretation of the meaning of the law's language; asserting objections to certain provisions of the law on constitutional grounds; and stating the President's intent regarding how the President intends to execute, or carry out, the law, including giving guidance to executive branch personnel.”

Bush used signing statements to circumvent a law banning torture of prisoners as well as congressional reporting requirements mandated as part of a major terrorism surveillance law.

A study by an American Bar Association task force concluded that Bush had used signing statements more than all previous presidents combined.

“Speaker Boehner and House Republicans are claiming an abuse of the same executive powers they so strongly supported for President George W. Bush,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said. “Executive orders that President Obama has used less frequently than all but one of the other presidents since World War II.”

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