June 24th, 2014
07:52 PM ET
3 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. raul c. sanchez .

    Let us the People sue Congress too for not doing their jobs and fire all of them.

    June 25, 2014 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  2. Sue

    Fine. Let Boehner sue. But let's be sure he gets the bill for all the lawyers and time involved in the lawsuit. Let's be sure it comes out of his pocket and not ours.

    As a voter and tax payer I am sick of paying salaries to the likes of Boehner who have nothing/zero to show for the last 7 years.

    June 25, 2014 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  3. Anonymous

    i dunno, here's a thought, why don't all of you in DC roll up your sleeves and get some real work done instead of whining like little babies and spending time trying to take the other party down???? and i mean BOTH parties.....we are all sick of it!!!!!

    June 25, 2014 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  4. Ronnie was a RINO!

    Reagan or Bush never would have used an executive order. No way. Never.

    June 25, 2014 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    " ... to control all aliens ..."

    Oh, dear. What could he be thinking? We've got enough problems in the world that he wants to control those pesky aliens (should they ever come flying out of their spaceships knocking on Earth's door).

    I say we impeach him and put Dick Cheney in the captains chair. Pronto. Dick'll take on anyone (real or imagined).

    June 25, 2014 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  6. Martha in CF

    Why doesn't Boehner work on all the jobs he promised when the redumblicans took over the House in 2010. Every President has the right to use executive actions when they feel it is needed. I am surprised Obama hasn't use them more often seeing that congress can't get anything done......

    June 25, 2014 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  7. Right as Always

    Boehmer wants to sue because... he now realizes that he has accomplished absolutely squat didley in his last 4 years of obstructing everything?

    Pathetic bunch. Change or go away!

    June 25, 2014 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  8. daniel

    As an independent voter, I keep wondering why republicans keep shooting themselves in the foot? Do they not remember Bush doing the same thing?

    George W. Bush 173
    George W. Bush 118 Total : 291

    Barack Obama 147
    Barack Obama 21 Total: 168

    This is one of reasons republicans don't get my vote. They have short memories when it's convenient for them.

    June 25, 2014 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  9. Peter Gerdeman

    Two things, 'pubs:
    1. Get over it, as GW Bush, and other Presidents, have done the same thing. Bring a suit, bring lots of money, and stand by to be laughed at – yet again – by not just the US, but the entire world.
    2. If the House of Reps continues not doing it's job, or nay job really, it is always refreshing to see someone else do so – like President Obama.

    June 25, 2014 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  10. onestarman

    Franklin D. Roosevelt 3,522
    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 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  11. tzedekh

    Going back to Grover Cleveland, only three Presidents have issued fewer executive orders than Obama (who has issued 180): Benjamin Harrison, Gerald Ford, and George H. W. Bush. However, all three served only one term or less (Ford less than two and a half years) but issued EOs at rates greater than Obama's.

    June 25, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  12. bobo

    More Golf Obama?????

    June 25, 2014 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  13. Rogers

    Fellow Americans? I all fairness, what don't you like of this President's below accomplishments. Remember he did all these alone with the Republican party on NO saying NO as usual.
    1. Passed Health Care Reform: After five presidents over a century failed to create universal health insurance, signed the Affordable Care Act (2010). It will cover 32 million uninsured Americans beginning in 2014 and mandates a suite of experimental measures to cut health care cost growth, the number one cause of America’s long-term fiscal problems.

    2. Passed the Stimulus: Signed $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 to spur economic growth amid greatest recession since the Great Depression. Weeks after stimulus went into effect, unemployment claims began to subside. Twelve months later, the private sector began producing more jobs than it was losing, and it has continued to do so for twenty-three straight months, creating a total of nearly 3.7 million new private-sector jobs.

    3. Passed Wall Street Reform: Signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010) to re-regulate the financial sector after its practices caused the Great Recession. The new law tightens capital requirements on large banks and other financial institutions, requires derivatives to be sold on clearinghouses and exchanges, mandates that large banks provide “living wills” to avoid chaotic bankruptcies, limits their ability to trade with customers’ money for their own profit, and creates the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (now headed by Richard Cordray) to crack down on abusive lending products and companies.

    4. Ended the War in Iraq: Ordered all U.S. military forces out of the country. Last troops left on December 18, 2011.

    5. Began Drawdown of War in Afghanistan: From a peak of 101,000 troops in June 2011, U.S. forces are now down to 91,000, with 23,000 slated to leave by the end of summer 2012. According to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the combat mission there will be over by next year.

    6. Eliminated Osama bin laden: In 2011, ordered special forces raid of secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in which the terrorist leader was killed and a trove of al-Qaeda documents was discovered.

    7. Turned Around U.S. Auto Industry: In 2009, injected $62 billion in federal money (on top of $13.4 billion in loans from the Bush administration) into ailing GM and Chrysler in return for equity stakes and agreements for massive restructuring. Since bottoming out in 2009, the auto industry has added more than 100,000 jobs. In 2011, the Big Three automakers all gained market share for the first time in two decades. The government expects to lose $16 billion of its investment, less if the price of the GM stock it still owns increases.

    8. Recapitalized Banks: In the midst of financial crisis, approved controversial Treasury Department plan to lure private capital into the country’s largest banks via “stress tests” of their balance sheets and a public-private fund to buy their “toxic” assets. Got banks back on their feet at essentially zero cost to the government.

    9. Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: Ended 1990s-era restriction and formalized new policy allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military for the first time.

    June 25, 2014 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  14. Patrick

    It is not the number of executive orders. It is that Obama is using executive orders to bypass Congress to make policy.

    June 25, 2014 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  15. Rosslaw

    And the scary thing is that the Tan Man is the brains of his side of the aisle. He should get together with McDaniel out of Mississippi who is going to sue over the practice of democracy in that state which caused McDaniel to lose the election. You know, two morons are better than one.

    June 25, 2014 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  16. mindstorms1

    I didn't realize we still had a congress. I thought they were in recess until the next presidential election.

    June 25, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  17. Just a thought

    Where were the complainers when GW was using executive orders for his personal gains.... Cry babies

    June 25, 2014 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  18. Walt

    "Most recently, he directed the Department of Labor to extend family leave to same-sex couples."

    Wasn't Obama required to do so, based on the Supreme Court ruling and numerous recent Federal Court rulings?

    June 25, 2014 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  19. TomGI

    Life in Camelot if high-larious.

    June 25, 2014 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  20. JOHN DAVIS

    More Republicon/Democrapper rhetoric going nowhere! They have unmitigated gall knowing their license to lie, cheat, steal and brutalize remains intact. A gang of fancy dressed hoodlums who are public sponges bleeding the country dry.

    June 25, 2014 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  21. What he really meant...

    I think he meant to say...

    The people's elected Congressional representatives have a clear record of ignoring the American people's will and failing to meet their Constitutional obligations, which has dangerous implications for both our system of government and our economy.

    June 25, 2014 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  22. tooltime

    Funny because no one in congress or the house are truly representatives of the American people. Most of them are there because of gerrymandering, especially Boehner!

    June 25, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  23. Jessica McGwin

    Class Action? The release of the dream team effects every American life. The release of 13,000 violent felons NON US citizens cut loose on the American people. Something needs to be done. The plan I believe by the democratic party is to insight civil war. I think at this point they will go to any length to destabilize the United States. Marshal Law is the only way they will be able to retain any power. What concerns me most for the people of the United States is that they will next use their friends in terrorist organizations to launch an offensive against the country as a whole. When I broke snowjobs code I thought it ironic the cycle date. January 31 2015. We are living in very dangerous times.

    June 25, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  24. pappyvanwinkle

    @Jacknyd – Quit spouting Tea Party propaganda. Those figures have been debunked by Snopes. Go to Snopes and type in "Executive orders" and wa-la. Those executive orders you're posting weren't even issued by Obama, but by JFK and others.

    The hilarious thing here is the unbelievable double-standard! Republicans trying to end "executive orders" for the president? If they succeed, what will a Republican president do? They're going to shoot themselves in the foot for spiting a president they don't like. It's high school...all over again. I hope, despite gerrymandered districts, that those Tea Party fools are removed.

    June 25, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  25. rtkmd

    I'm no lawyer (and neither is Boehner), but would he have standing as an injured party?

    June 25, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
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