Senior Republican senators are throwing their support behind House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to sue President Barack Obama for allegedly failing to faithfully execute the law.
TPM put the question to numerous senators in the Capitol on Tuesday, and several of them suggested the House sue over the president’s unilateral changes to Obamacare deadlines before and after the law’s botched rollout.
“Sure, I think it’s a good idea. He’s violated law after law. How many times has he violated the Affordable Care Act?” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said.
Asked for examples of Obama’s overreach, McCain said, “The reversals of the Affordable Care Act in particular but a number of other measures that he’s taken by executive fiat. He has abused his constitutional responsibilities.”
Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, No. 5 in GOP leadership, said he’s “supportive of what Speaker Boehner is going to try to do in the House. There need to be quicker ways for members of Congress to intervene [once a president overreaches].”
Blunt told TPM there’s a “very long list” of examples of Obama’s overreach, “starting with all of the postponements, delays, rewriting of the Affordable Act Act. I don’t think you have to look any further than that to find the first dozen or three-dozen of those kinds of overreaches.” He also mentioned the president’s new rules to combat climate change with pollution limits on coal-fired power plants.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the second-longest serving sitting senator and former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, gave Boehner a thumbs-up but expressed reservations about the ability to achieve legal standing.
“It’s an interesting principle. The standing is a very, very difficult thing for members of Congress. But he’s come up with a unique way of getting standing. And look, there’s something wrong with the president,” Hatch said, echoing his colleagues’ criticism about overreach. “So I’m open. All I can say is I’m open.”
“Basically,” he said, “having the House establish a right of action here is a unique, interesting way of approaching it. I’m not fully conversant with how they’re going to do that. … I think it’s time the court allows standing in some cases. The president needs to live within the constraints as well and he’s not doing it.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a former lawyer and rumored 2016 presidential contender, also praised Boehner’s idea but said it may not bear fruit until Obama leaves office.
“At some point, something needs to happen,” he said. “The president has continued to ignore the law, continued to unilaterally take upon himself unconstitutional powers, and someone needed to do something about it. So I agree that this needed to go to the courts. The irony is by the time some of this is resolved through the court system he may no longer be president.”
Boehner still hasn’t said what he’ll go after Obama for but indicated the House will vote on legislation to authorize a lawsuit this month. Obama has mocked and dismissed Boehner’s plan, promising to continue looking for ways to solve national problems within his legal authority where Congress refuses to act.