June 24th, 2014
07:52 PM ET
5 months ago

Boehner plans lawsuit against Obama over executive orders

Updated 3:15 p.m. ET, 6/25/14

Washington (CNN) – House Speaker John Boehner Wednesday told reporters that he plans to sue President Barack Obama over his use of executive action.

"I am," the Speaker said when asked if he was planning to initiate a lawsuit.

"You know the constitution makes it clear that the president’s job is to faithfully execute the laws and in my view the President has not faithfully executed the laws," Boehner added at a news conference on Capitol Hill.

Boehner announced later Wednesday that in July he would bring a bill to the House floor authorizing a Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to file the lawsuit against the President. He last convened the group in 2011 when the White House said it would no longer defend the anti same-sex marriage law, the Defense of Marriage Act.

The group is made up of the top three House GOP leaders and the top two Democratic leaders.

In a memo to House members announcing next month's vote, Boehner indicated the legal action would cover a number of issues but did not cite specific cases of executive overreach.

"On matters ranging from health care and energy to foreign policy and education, President Obama has repeatedly run an end-around on the American people and their elected legislators, straining the boundaries of the solemn oath he took on Inauguration Day,' the memo said.

The Speaker denied that the move was about energizing Republicans ahead the midterm elections.

"This is about defending the institution in which we serve. If you look back over the past 235 years of our history there's been movement between the inherent powers of the executive branch vs the inherent powers of the legislative branch and what we've seen clearly over the past 5 years is an effort to erode the power of the legislative branch," the Speaker said in response to a question from CNN.

Republicans argue that the President is breaching his constitutional power by side-stepping the legislative process. Obama has used executive actions as a way to bypass a deeply divided Congress, avoiding inaction on issues the White House has made hallmarks of the President's second term agenda.

So far, the Republican-controlled House has passed two bills aimed at curbing executive orders by the President, neither of which have gone anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The White House responded Wednesday to Boehner's plans to bring a lawsuit against the President, pointing the blame at the GOP for uncompromising opposition to Obama's policies.

"For a long time we have seen Republicans block progress in Congress, a range of bills that would promote economic strength but in this case it seems that Republicans have shifted their opposition into a higher gear," spokesman Josh Earnest said at the White House press briefing.

"Frankly, it's a gear I didn't know previously existed.'

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi Wednesday called the lawsuit "a subterfuge" and said Republicans in Congress are "doing nothing" and "they have to give some aura of activity."

Pelosi said the House GOP effort to challenge the Defense of Marriage Act in court wasted $2.3 million in taxpayer money, and said "here we go again."

Obama has used his executive authority to push through a number of issues. Most recently, he directed the Department of Labor to extend family leave to same-sex couples. Previously, he raised the minimum wage for federal contractors and halt deportations for many children in the United States illegally.

Rank and file House Republicans have been pushing for months for top GOP leaders to file a lawsuit.

Conservative Republicans have long complained that the President has overstepped his authority – citing the series of changes that the Obama has made on his own to tweak the implementation of Obamacare.

Congressional Republicans, fueled by anger from their grassroots supporters, also argued it was time to explore legal action when the President began saying in January that he had a “pen and a phone” and would take action on key priorities if Congress failed to move legislation.

One avenue Boehner could take is to convene a Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group - something he did in 2011 when the White House said it would no longer defend the anti same-sex marriage law, the Defense of Marriage Act.

Since there is only a day and a half left before Congress heads out for a week long recess, the lawsuit is not expected to be filed until next month. The lawmakers who make up the group – the top three House GOP leaders and the top two Democratic leaders – will have to meet and vote – and – that isn’t expected to happen until after Congress gets back from 4th of July break.

Boehner just so happened to be with the President on Tuesday, along with Vice President Joe Biden, at the White House to meet with members of the 2013 U.S. and International Presidents Cup teams. And the mood didn't seem to be too tense between the House leader and the commander-in-chief, given reports of Boehner's possible lawsuit.

Obama joked: "I'm joined by two of my favorite golf partners, the Vice President of the United States Joe Biden and Speaker of the House John Boehner."

Commissioner Tim Finchem jokingly said that he's been keeping track of who criticizes the President about his golf game, and Boehner was not among his critics.

"The only thing that he doesn't criticize me about," the President added, to laughs.

CNN's Dana Davidsen contributed to this report.

soundoff (838 Responses)
  1. RGD

    Remember, if your Boehner doesn't go away in 4 hours, see the doctor that you now have access to thanks to the ACA.

    June 25, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  2. Larry L

    @misterflibble1

    Very good comment. Thanks.

    June 25, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  3. Raoul Duke, Doctor of Journalism

    Maybe this will be Boehner's last squeak before the Kochs have him primaried out. Whiny old weasel needs to hurry up and become a lobbyist.

    June 25, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  4. Too Funny

    And in other news.....The Arab Spring touted by this administration continues to blossom... oh wait!

    June 25, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  5. JustRight

    It is a shame the first black president has turned out to be known best as a law breaker.

    June 25, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  6. Dee

    Hey Congress try getting to work like the rest of the nation that is struggling. Someone has to make decisions.

    June 25, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  7. rizzo

    Considering that this is the guy who a few years ago specifically said his #1 goal was to obstruct Obama in any way possible, this isn't surprising.

    June 25, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Why do people only point out "wasting money" when it's something they do not agree with? What about all of the other programs Obama has "wasted" money on? Ironic.

    June 25, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  9. Oxytropis Lambertii

    Could it be that the American people do not want this administration doing anything else? Hence the Congressional gridlock and the anger that comes from undermining the system of checks and balances.

    June 25, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  10. Barry

    Well the Republicans tried and could not overturn the Affordable Care Act, now maybe they are taking on the President in hopes of overturning him. I wish them luck, because they will go down to defeat again!!

    June 25, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  11. Been There

    Why is this a story?
    Franklin D. Roosevelt Total 3,522
    Harry S. Truman Total 907
    Dwight D. Eisenhower Total 484
    John F. Kennedy Total 214
    Lyndon B. Johnson Total 325
    Richard Nixon Total 346
    Gerald R. Ford Total 169
    Jimmy Carter Total 320
    Ronald Reagan Total 381
    George Bush Total 166
    William J. Clinton Total 364
    George W. Bush Total 291
    Barack Obama Total 168

    June 25, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  12. Gary

    Executive Orders by President:

    William McKinley – 185
    Theodore Roosevelt – 1,081
    William Howard Taft – 724
    Woodrow Wilson – 1,803
    Warren G. Harding – 522
    Calvin Coolidge – 1,203
    Herbert Hoover – 968
    Franklin D. Roosevelt – 3,522
    Harry S. Truman – 907
    Dwight D. Eisenhower – 484
    John F. Kennedy – 214
    Lyndon B. Johnson – 325
    Richard Nixon – 346
    Gerald R. Ford – 169
    Jimmy Carter – 320
    Ronald Reagan – 381
    George H. W. Bush – 166
    William J. Clinton – 364
    George W. Bush – 291
    Barack Obama – 180

    June 25, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  13. darryl

    More wasted tax payer money

    June 25, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  14. Dan

    Its about bloody time

    June 25, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  15. Melanie

    If only House Republicans spent as much time attempting to accomplish things that people wanted as whining and wasting money on subterfuge...

    June 25, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  16. Leftcoastrocky

    Because he has to rile up the far right to get a good turn out in the mid terms

    June 25, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  17. skarphace

    If Boehner had any backbone, he would have stood up to the obstructionist Tea Party. If Boehner had any ethics, he would be trying to overturn Citizens United.

    Unfortunately, he has neither.

    June 25, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  18. Leftcoastrocky

    Because it really is getting old to vote to repeal Obamacare

    June 25, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  19. Won

    I guess Obama should sue Boehner for using filibuster? It works the same way!

    June 25, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  20. Leftcoastrocky

    Because Benghazi is turning out not to be much of an issue for republicans

    June 25, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  21. Leftcoastrocky

    Because even if the IRS did wrong there is still not connection to the WH

    June 25, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  22. Independant Voter

    You know, I don't blame the GOP as much as I blame the DEMs and Independents for not showing up in 2010. Now you see why it is important to mobilize every two years, not four. Because of the lack of inaction now we all have to deal with obstructionism instead of governing. This year, we must turn out like we never have before. We may not win, but if we do not act we certainly will continue to lose. I truly believe America is sick of this charade of the GOP.

    We need to fight the Gerrymandering, Voter Suppression, Voter Intimidation in every state, in every county and in every town. American People want a government in the middle, not the fringe right extremists view.

    June 25, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  23. skarphace

    JustRight: "It is a shame the first black president has turned out to be known best as a law breaker."

    It is a shame that there are still many Americans that will hate a man based solely on the color of his skin.

    June 25, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  24. Charlie

    Does Boener have a short memory? Because I know the Legislature is overstepping their boundaries by having "hearings" with the IRS when that should be the judicial system's part, and did he not forget about Bush overstepping Congress' authority by going to war with Iraq with congress' ok?

    June 25, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  25. David

    If Boehner does not follow through on this with every ounce of his being, he will have less credibility than the IRS and will cost the GOP the next election. There is a ton at stake here.....George Will nailed it.....

    June 25, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
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