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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More