Speaker Seeks Bill Authorizing House of Representatives to Sue President
President Barack Obama recently lost in a handful of cases at the Supreme Court, and he might be facing even more legal challenges if legislation supported by Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner passes. In an opinion piece on CNN.com, Speaker Boehner wrote that the House will consider legislation allowing the Chamber to sue the President if he fails “to follow his oath of office and faithfully execute the laws of our country.” The Speaker wrote that he thinks the President has not enforced the law in several issues, particularly on health care, foreign affairs and energy policy. “The legislative branch has an obligation to defend the rights and responsibilities of the American people, and America’s constitutional balance of powers—before it is too late”, the Speaker writes.
The legislation allowing the House to sue the President is the latest in a series of disputes between the congressional Republicans and the President. Congressional Republicans have repeatedly expressed their concern that President Barack Obama will not enforce laws enacted by Congress. President Obama has likewise repeatedly accused the legislature of being a do-nothing Congress. For instance, last week, he said Congress “insist[s] on taking no action whatsoever that will help anybody” and pledged to act on his own. As if anticipating the Republican response, he joked, “So sue me”, noting that he would not “apologize for trying to do something”. Speaker Boehner derided the President’s line as a “flippant dismissal of the Constitution [they] are both sworn to defend.” It is unlikely that any legislation allowing the House to sue would pass the Senate, let alone survive a Presidential veto.
Congress Returns from Independence Day Break
Congress is returning to DC following its Independence Day break, but there is not much time for action before the midterm elections, which are only a few months away. Since the Senate is up for grabs, Members will have to carefully assess what legislation they may realistically complete for the rest of the year. According to Mike Lillis of The Hill, a couple of notable items could pass. For instance, the House and Senate are currently working out disagreements on legislation reforming services for veterans, following the Veterans Affairs scandal that broke in the spring. Additionally, Congress will need to provide funding for the government before the end of this fiscal year. They may not finish the spending bills before the elections, in which case they would need to pass continuing resolutions so Congress could complete the legislation afterwards. Other legislation is less likely to pass. Following the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, which ruled that some businesses need not pay for insurance policies that cover certain contraception conflicting with the owners’ religious beliefs, Senate Democrats have promised to produce legislation providing the same. However, a bill has not yet been introduced. Whatever is produced would face long odds of passage in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
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