The U.S. House is preparing for a big debate this week over whether President Obama overstepped his power by delaying the health care mandate for businesses. Virginia lawmakers have much to say about the challenge.
The last time Republicans controlled the House and a Democrat was in the White House Washington was the center of an impeachment battle over President Clinton's infidelity. This time, House Republican leaders aren't looking for an impeachment, but they’re planning to take the administration to court. A House Committee approved a measure to sue the president over his decision to delay the health insurance mandate for employers. Virginia Republicans, like retiring Northern Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf, are united in the effort to sue the president.
“Because they’re violating the law. They’re doing things that they don’t have any authority to do. No, I think the speaker’s done the right thing.”
On a recent “Fox News Sunday” appearance Virginia Republican and Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte denied the lawsuit was political. He says the president is overstepping his authority as he implements his signature initiative.
“The law says if you have fewer than fifty employees, you don't have to comply with the employer mandate in Obamacare. So the president now says, well, if you have between fifty and a hundred employees, you don't have to comply; but if you have more than a hundred employees, you do. Where does it say in Obamacare that he has the authority to make that legislative decision?”
Virginia Republican Randy Forbes also supports the lawsuit, even though he opposes the health law's employer mandate.
“Listen. Listen, this administration has refused to comply with the law on so many issues. Unfortunately the courts won’t hear them all. But that doesn’t mean that it follows like the night to the day that they shouldn’t hear any of them.”
Forbes says the president hasn’t just overstepped on so called Obamacare, but he says their case has to be limited.
But you can’t file a lawsuit and say, here are five thousand things, you know, to do. But we know that there are several situations where the courts have said that this administration has not followed the rule of law, that they have gone beyond the Constitution. And it’s far better in a democratic society to have a court say that than it is to have people feel like the administration’s just throwing the rule of law out the window.
The move is already dividing a hyper-partisan Congress. Virginia Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly says the lawsuit is more than baseless.
“You don’t have to agree with him. You don’t have to vote with him. But to try to delegitimize him at every step of the way, which is what they have done – from everything from his birth certificate to now – a lawsuit claiming he’s taken illegal acts, I think, actually is a threat to democracy. And it ought to concern Americans of every stripe.”
Connolly also calls the lawsuit a distraction.
“We can have a debate about, you know: Is he stretching the legal limits of that authority? Well, what president hasn’t? And we have remedies here. A lawsuit is perhaps the least effective of them: clarifying the law; you know, calling it out.”
Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine says the GOP lawsuit represents a failure to govern.
“And the president’s point is, look, if you don’t like what I do, then legislate. “It seems like that’s – what? You would rather hire lawyers and pay money to lawyers to bring lawsuits rather than legislate? You know, we ought to be legislating.”
Democrats have different qualms with the president. Northern Virginia Congressman Jim Moran says he thinks the party would be stronger on Capitol Hill if the president communicated better.
“You know, a quarterback that doesn’t communicate with his offensive line can still win games. But they don’t generally win as many games as the quarterback who, you know, embraces the line and works with them and communicates with them on a regular basis.”
As the House prepares to debate the lawsuit this week the fight is expected to get bitter, which analysts say could make a hyper partisan Washington even more dysfunctional and they think the suit will play a key role in Virginia races and in others across the nation – which could tilt control of Congress this fall.