The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday filed a lawsuit against the administration of President Barack Obama over his signature health care reform legislation, fostering another showdown between Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill.
The filing came as the president was headed to Las Vegas to rally public support for his executive order to overhaul immigration reform. On Thursday evening in an emotional address to the nation, Obama announced the measure that will stop deportations of millions of undocumented immigrants.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner on Friday expressed his anger over what he called the president’s repeated abuse of his executive authority.
"With this action, the president has chosen to deliberately sabotage any chance of enacting bipartisan reforms that he claims to seek," Boehner said of the immigration order. "And as I told the president yesterday, he is damaging the presidency itself."
Contests unilateral action
In a separate written statement, Boehner said the House is filing a lawsuit because the president has acted unilaterally several times to delay parts of the Affordable Care Act implementation – without consulting Congress.
House Republicans have bitterly opposed the president’s health care reform, and they also oppose the new executive order on immigration.
The Democratic-led Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform legislation in June 2013, but the Republican-led House has not taken up the issue. Boehner said Obama has destroyed any remaining trust he might have had with Republican lawmakers.
Boehner said the president’s action would put more lives at risk by encouraging illegal immigration to the United States.
Contemplating other actions
Asked what other actions Republicans in Congress intend to take and when they plan to take it, Boehner did not reveal a specific plan.
"We are working with our members and looking at the options that are available to us," he said, emphasizing "the House will in fact act."
Experts say Republican leaders are still considering their actions, including seeking to defund parts of the government that deal with immigration.
Brookings Institution analyst Thomas Mann said Republicans do not have many good options to block the president’s planned action any time soon.
"The only way they can undo these orders in a practical way is to win the next presidential election," Mann said. "If they win it, their president can withdraw those executive orders, and if the party wants to go with that position, they can."
Members of Congress have left Washington for a one-week break for the nation’s Thanksgiving holiday, celebrated next Thursday. When they return, they will only have until December 11 for the House and the Senate to pass a government spending bill to avoid another shutdown.