News / USA

US House Approves Bill to Sue Obama

FILE- President Barack Obama listens to a question in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, July 18, 2014.
FILE- President Barack Obama listens to a question in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, July 18, 2014.
Cindy Saine

After a day of drama in the chamber, the U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill on a party-line vote that authorizes the House to file a lawsuit against President Barack Obama.

House Republicans say the president violated the Constitution in 2013 by changing his signature health care reform law without getting approval from Congress. Democrats say the bill is a political stunt designed to undermine the president's legitimacy.

It was a day of impassioned debate on the House floor about the state of American democracy. House Republicans say Democratic President Barack Obama has openly bragged on several occasions that he has a pen, and if Congress will not act to solve problems, he will act on his own on issues such as immigration and health care.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner said the lawsuit is not about Republicans or Democrats, but about defending the U.S. Constitution from overreach by the Executive branch.

“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? – asked Boehner.

But most Democrats fiercely oppose the lawsuit as a political move to fire up conservative Republican voters during an election year, and as a waste of Congress’ time and taxpayer money.  

Some Democrats said some Republicans have bitterly opposed President Obama from his very first day in office.  Democratic Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis said the lawsuit goes too far.

“I urge each and every one of my colleagues to have the raw courage, nothing but courage, to oppose this insulting and offensive resolution,” said Lewis.

Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd in the midwestern city of Kansas City, Missouri, the president seemed to brush off the vote, and he poked fun at Republicans for wasting time on the measure with only two days left before they leave Washington for their August recess.

“Instead of suing me for doing my job, I want Congress to do its job, and make life a little better for the Americans who send them there in the first place. Stop posturing,” said he to cheers and applause.

Some Democrats pointed out that is ironic that House Republicans want to sue the president for delaying part of the Affordable Care Act, which the House has voted to repeal or delay more than 50 times.

Presidential historian Alan Lichtman of American University said he believes the vote, like many things in Washington, is highly political.

If it is a political maneuver, it is quite likely to backfire on the Republicans just as the impeachment of Bill Clinton backfired on the Republicans back in the late 1990s.

Lichtman said if courts find that the House has the standing to sue the president, it would put Congress in uncharted waters.

“Well this effort, it if were to succeed, to sue President Obama, would be historically unprecedented.  Usually the remedy, when you believe the president has been abusing his power, is impeachment,” said Lichtman.

Some Democrats have suggested that the lawsuit may be a first step, laying the groundwork for Republicans to try to impeach President Obama.

House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi challenged House Speaker Boehner to rule impeachment out.

“Impeachment is off the table.  Why hasn’t the speaker said that?” – asked Pelosi.

Earlier in the week, Boehner said the talk of impeachment was a “scam” by Democrats to fire up their voters and raise money for the November elections. The White House has said it is taking the possibility of impeachment seriously, especially if the president takes more executive actions on immigration reform.

Analysts say a potential lawsuit against the president, if it moves forward, could take years to actually make it to court.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs