Remember the much ballyhooed House Republican lawsuit against President Barack Obama for his executive overreach? About that…
Politico reported Friday evening that the lawsuit — which was supposed to challenge Obama’s executive orders regarding Obamacare (and appease the impeachment caucus in the lead-up to the midterm elections) — hasn’t actually been filed yet.
The planned lawsuit was announced this summer and, as Politico reported Friday citing lawyers close to the litigation, it was initially expected to be filed in mid-September.
The lawsuit now isn’t expected to be filed until after the elections, Politico’s sources said. One possible factor? It would have motivated Democratic voters to turn out at the polls.
An August poll found that 88 percent of Democrats said the litigation would make them more likely to vote for a Democrat in the upcoming election.
The lawsuit has also undergone some behind-the-scenes turmoil. As TPM reported on Sept. 19, the first private lawyer retained by Republicans to handle the lawsuit backed out under pressure from other clients.
Boehner’s office would not comment in detail Friday on the delay. “No decisions on timing at this point,” a spokesperson told Politico.
Maybe you’re not surprised that Congress is ducking a debate on the war against ISIS for what appears to be purely political reasons, and at this point, maybe you’re not even taken aback. Jon Stewart wants you to be taken aback. On Monday night’s Daily Show, he unfavorably compared Congress to Britain’s Parliament, which was called back into session by Prime Minister David Cameron last week to have a vigorous debate over whether the UK should join America’s ISIS bombing campaign.
Stewart doesn’t go into the differences between Britain’s parliamentary system and America’s separately elected legislative and executive branches — this is a comedy TV show, after all, not a seminar on comparative politics — but his point largely stands: America’s “legislators refuse to debate publicly one of the most crucial issues of our time, for fear that we will hear them.” He singles out House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who warns about President Obama’s handling of the imminent threat of ISIS “barbarians” but won’t call the House back to tackle that threat.
Congress’ excuse is that Obama didn’t ask them to debate the ISIS battle — Stewart isn’t buying it (as he mockingly notes in his Lindsey Graham voice, for some reason, before breaking out a pink magic wand). And the only person in Congress willing to explain the real, brazenly political motives is Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who lost a GOP primary and won’t be returning to Congress next year. “You know what, the rest of you motherf—kers either get back to Washington and debate and vote on this thing, or maybe it’s time to tell ‘mom’ we’re coming home,” Stewart concluded, pointing to a photo of Queen Elizabeth II.
Hours before Congress broke for the August recess, House Republicans claimed that the President could use executive action to fix the border situation with unaccompanied childrenfleeing violence in the Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. In a press statement released Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and other House Republican leaders indicated that President Obama could address the crisis “without the need for congressional action,” a statement tinged with some irony given that just the day before, House Republicans had slammed the President with a lawsuit claiming executive overreach.
“This situation shows the intense concern within our conference – and among the American people – about the need to ensure the security of our borders and the president’s refusal to faithfully execute our laws,” the House Republican leadership press release stated. “There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries.”
Boehner made the statement even though the House still had time Thursday before it broke for the August recess to vote through a $659 million supplemental emergency bill to deal with the child arrivals at the border. The House could still potentially offer up a fix to the border situation when the GOP holds an emergency meeting on Friday morning. Still, Republican leaders are struggling to reach the necessary 218 vote threshold, with some calling on a vote for a separate measure that would defund a 2012 presidential initiative that grants temporary deportation reprieve and work authorization for some undocumented immigrants.
At odds with Boehner’s statement is a lawsuit that House Republicans had authorized Wednesday, which criticizes the President over claims that he had unlawfully overused executive orders. The lawsuit enumerates a number of areas in which they allege Obama had employed executive overreach, but they especially targeted the President for not fully implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Their lawsuit does not specifically mention immigration. Republicans often cite a 2012 executive order known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as a prime example of executive overreach.
Republicans have claimed that the DACA program was responsible for the surge of child arrivals at the southern border since the beginning of the 2014 fiscal year, as well as the reason why they could never pass immigration reform. It seems that the executive action that House Republican leaders have expressed the most interest in since last year has been to dismantle the DACA program, voting three times to dissolve the DACA program, an issue that researchers found has little to do with the current border crisis (eligible DACA applicants must have entered and continuously lived in the United States before June 2007).
During an interview with MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown, two Republican members of Congress conceded the conflict between the lawsuit and Boehner’s call for executive action. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) agreed that it didn’t make sense to sue the President, saying, “Look, you can’t say on the one hand that the president is overreaching by acting without legislative authority and direction and then refuse to give him legislative authority and direction in another area.” Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) also agreed, saying, “We can’t go home until we pass a bill. That’s why we’re staying here, that’s why we’re going to get the job done.”
House Republicans condemned President Obama for failing to notify Congress in advance of the May swap of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban members.
But with the House expected to vote this week to allow a lawsuit against the president, multiple Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee said Tuesday that the resolution was nothing more than “political theater.”
The resolution, introduced by Republican Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia, says Obama failed to follow the law by not notifying Congress 30 days ahead of the swap earlier this year, as required under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014.
Bergdahl went missing in June 2009 from his base in Afghanistan. He was held by the Taliban and was freed in May in exchange for the release of five Taliban members who were being detained at Guantanamo Bay. The prisoners, who were transferred to Qatar, are not allowed to leave the Middle Eastern country for a year.
“Congress was not able to consider the risk to the American people or our troops in harms way,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon said regarding the swap.
Rigell and other lawmakers said they have concerns about the national security implications of the Bergdahl exchange because it suggests the United States will negotiate with terrorists, but added they are also “relieved” that Bergdahl is back in the United States.
Rigell said he believes Obama’s decision to not notify Congress before the swap was “unnecessary” and “harmed our relationship with the administration.”
Administration officials told lawmakers earlier this year that after consulting with the Justice Department, they concluded they did not have to notify Congress 30 days in advance because of a legal loophole.
Officials also suggested that notifying Congress would have put the swap, and Bergdahl’s life, at unnecessary risk.
Asked if the administration would follow the 30-day requirement in the future, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagelsaid the administration would follow the requirement “unless there is an extraordinary set of circumstances.”
Committee Democrats largely agreed that the administration should have given prior notification, but they felt the Republican-backed legislation went too far. Democratic Reps. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii were the only Democrats to support Rigell’s proposal.
Committee ranking member Adam Smith of Washington state offered an amendment to the resolution, which was ultimately rejected. He and other Democrats on the panel suggested that Rigell’s resolution could appear partisan, because it contends the administration knowingly violated the law.
“[Prisoner swaps] are very, very difficult decisions to make,” Smith said. “I do not think it is appropriate for this Congress to condemn the president for making that decision.”
Smith’s amendment instead would have noted that the administration and lawmakers had a disagreement on how to interpret the law.
And Tuesday’s hearing comes at a potentially precarious time for lawmakers, with the House expected to authorize a lawsuit against Obama this week.
“This is happening in the context of a vote tomorrow to authorize a lawsuit against the president of the United States,” said Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney, calling the larger argument a “600-pound gorilla.”
During a speech in Austin, Texas on Thursday, President Barack Obama found a new way to express his frustration with Republicans: movie quotes. The president told the crowd of supporters there that he’s starting to feel like Mark Wahlberg’s character in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed.
Obama described the scene in question for anyone who hadn’t seen the Oscar-winning film, in which Wahlberg’s character is on a stakeout with other police officers who end up losing track of the suspect they’re following. When another man asked Wahlberg who he is, he responds, an Obama’s paraphrase, “I’m the guy going my job, you must be the other guy.”
“Sometimes I feel like saying to these guys,” Obama said of Republicans in Congress, “I’m the guy doing my job, you must be the other guy.” Instead of waging a “political stunt” like suing him for taking executive action, Obama had a different challenge for his opposition: “Do something!”
“It is lonely with me just doing stuff,” he said. “I’d love it if the Republicans did stuff too.”
Watch video below, via C-SPAN:
And, here’s the NSFW version of the scene Obama referenced from The Departed:
The Obama administration is formally asking for $3.7 billion in emergency funds from Congress to address the flood of unaccompanied minor children coming illegally into the United States — more than the White House previously signaled it would request.
The funds include $1.1 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, $433 million to Customs and Border Protection, $64 million for the Department of Justice, $300 million to the State Department and $1.8 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The administration previously indicated that it would request about $2 billion but would wait to release the details until Congress returned from a week-long break.
The White House says the money is necessary to cover costs like increased man-hours for border patrol agents and aerial surveillance teams, legal services for children in immigration proceedings, the hiring of 40 additional teams of immigration judges, and care for unaccompanied children while they are in the country. Almost $300 million would go towards efforts to “repatriate and reintegrate migrants to Central America” and address the underlying economic and security causes of the spike in child migrants.
It’s not clear how the GOP-led House will approach the funding request, which must pass both Houses of Congress.
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said: “The Appropriations Committee and other Members, including the working group on the border crisis led by Rep. Kay Granger, will review the White House proposal. The Speaker still supports deploying the National Guard to provide humanitarian support in the affected areas – which this proposal does not address.”
They keep overlooking the fact that President Obama is a constitutional lawyer so he will always make sure every “t” is crossed and every “i” is dotted with this congress. Why do they keep assuming that President Obama is as dumb or dumber than they are?
Speaker of the House John Boehner spent twelve paragraphs writing about why he must sue President Obama, but what was missing from his CNN commentary was any examples of Obama breaking the law.
Boehner wrote, “But too often over the past five years, the President has circumvented the American people and their elected representatives through executive action, changing and creating his own laws, and excusing himself from enforcing statutes he is sworn to uphold — at times even boasting about his willingness to do it, as if daring the American people to stop him.”
That sounds dangerous, so what has the president done?
Boehner continued, “That’s why, later this month, we will bring legislation to the House floor that would authorize the House of Representatives to file suit in an effort to compel President Obama to follow his oath of office and faithfully execute the laws of our country.”
This is another allegation that the president has broken laws, but which laws did he violate?
The Speaker continued to ramble on without offering the slightest hint of specifics, “Even worse, the President’s habit of ignoring the law as written hurts our economy and jobs even more. Washington taxes and regulations always make it harder for private sector employers to meet payrolls, invest in new initiatives and create jobs — but how can those employers plan, invest and grow when the laws are changing on the President’s whim at any moment? I don’t take the House legal action against the President lightly. We’ve passed legislation to address this problem (twice), but Senate Democrats, characteristically, have ignored it.”
Was Boehner writing about Obamacare, the EPA rules on coal power plants, raising the minimum wage for federal contractors, immigration? Who knows? Speaker Boehner certainly doesn’t.
Speaker Boehner aimless drifts for a dozen paragraphs, thirteen if you count a one sentence paragraph which I didn’t, and he says nothing that everyone hasn’t heard Republicans accuse Obama of ever since the day that he first he took office.
The most revealing thing about Speaker Boehner’s CNN op-ed is the complete lack of evidence that it contains. Boehner couldn’t articulate a clear reason for suing the president much less a specific example that could be deemed worthy of a lawsuit. Every executive action that Obama has taken has decades or centuries legal precedent behind it. The Speaker has been trying to dodge the fact that he has no legal grounds to sue on.
Speaker Boehner has been working on this lawsuit for six months. Over the course of the past half year, House Republicans have not found a single instance where President Obama has broken the law. If Boehner had a specific example of the president breaking the law, he would be using it. The fact that he has been trying to whip Republicans into a frenzy over this lawsuit without telling them why they are suing the president speaks volumes about the merits of what Rep. Boehner is up to.
This lawsuit is a gimmick that is designed to distract Republican voters from the fact that in 2010 and 2012 Republicans promised to repeal Obamacare, but here we are in 2014, and not only is the ACA the law of the land, but it is more popular than ever. Republicans promised to shut down the government until they got their way, and failed. Failure is the defining characteristic of Boehner’s time as Speaker.
The years of Republican majority control of the House have been wrapped in failure. The lawsuit is nothing more than a shiny distraction. Benghazi didn’t distract. This IRS conspiracy flamed out, so all Boehner has left is an empty threat to sue the president.
Democrats are raising record sums of money while conservatives see through the gimmicks. Speaker Boehner has unleashed a backlash from all sides. Just like his CNN op-ed Boehner’s speakership has been full of bluster but ineptly lacking in action.
In other words, every time John Boehner brings up this lawsuit, House Republicans take another step towards losing in 2014.
Speaking this afternoon at Lake Harriet Band Shell in Minneapolis, Minnesota with Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar in the house, in addition to Governor Mark Dayton, Congressman Keith Ellison and Mayor Betsy Hodges, President Obama let go of the tight constrictions of diplomacy and got real about the problems in DC: It’s Republicans and their failed trickle down fantasies. They just don’t get what people are going through.
“(S)o far this year, Republicans in Congress have blocked or voted down every single serious idea to strengthen the middle class,” President Obama told the crowd. Lest you think he’s exaggerating, he went through the list and it’s not pretty.
Read on via a White House transcript:
And sometimes I’m supposed to be politic about how I say things — (laughter) — but I’m finding lately that I just want to say what’s on my mind. (Applause.) So let me just be clear — I want you think about this — so far this year, Republicans in Congress have blocked or voted down every single serious idea to strengthen the middle class. You may think I’m exaggerating, but let me go through the list. They’ve said no to raising the minimum wage. They’ve said no to fair pay. Some of them have denied that there’s even a problem, despite the fact that women are getting paid 77 cents for every dollar a man is getting paid.
They’ve said no to extending unemployment insurance for more than three million Americans who are out there looking every single day for a new job, despite the fact that we know it would be good not just for those families who are working hard to try to get back on their feet, but for the economy as a whole. Rather than invest in working families getting ahead, they actually voted to give another massive tax cut to the wealthiest Americans.
AUDIENCE: Booo –
THE PRESIDENT: Don’t boo, by the way. I want you to vote. (Laughter and applause.) I mean, over and over again, they show that they’ll do anything to keep in place systems that really help folks at the top but don’t help you. And they don’t seem to mind. And their obstruction is keeping a system that is rigged against families like Ben’s and Rebekah’s.
Now, I’m not saying these are all bad people; they’re not. When I’m sitting there just talking to them about family, we get along just fine. Many of them will acknowledge when I talk to them — yes, I know, I wish we could do something more, but I can’t — but they can’t be too friendly towards me because they’d be run out of town by the tea party. (Laughter.)
But sometimes I get a sense they just don’t know what most folks are going through. They keep on offering a theory of the economy that time and again failed for the middle class. They think we should give more tax breaks to those at the top. They think we should invest less in things like education. They think we should let big banks, and credit card companies, and polluters, and insurers do only whatever is best for their bottom line without any responsibility to anybody else. They want to drastically reduce or get rid of the safety net for people trying to work their way into the middle class.
And if we did all these things, they think the economy will thrive and jobs will prosper, and everything will trickle down.
And just because they believe it, it doesn’t mean the rest of us should be believing it — because we’ve tried what they’re peddling, and it doesn’t work. We know from our history that our economy does not grow from the top down, it grows from the middle out. We do better when the middle class does better. We do better when workers are getting a decent salary. We do better when they’ve got decent benefits. (Applause.) We do better when a young family knows that they can get ahead. And we do better when people who are working hard know that they can count on decent childcare at an affordable cost, and that if they get sick they’re not going to lose their homes.
Yesterday the bear was on the loose at an ice cream shop and today he’s getting real with the truth. Republicans are out of touch with what real people are going through. Indeed, it’s fair to say that most politicians are out of touch with what real people are going through. They believe that talking about the poor and middle class is simply something they have to do to get elected. That’s why it’s imperative for voters to look at a politician’s record.
For example, currently the Republican Speaker of the House is aiming to sue President Obama for taking action to help the workers and citizens of this country after Congress failed to act.
Republicans have rejected all jobs bills, instead clinging to the Keystone Pipeline as a “jobs bill” — when in fact it is just more corporate giveaways instead of an investment in this country. Look at their records to see if it matches with their rhetoric.
No matter the party, they should be for raising the minimum wage, be for extending unemployment benefits for the long term unemployed, for fair pay for women, not be cutting aid to children and the elderly in tough times, want to address climate change, not be advocating for more war when the VA is underfunded and they refuse to fund it, and in general should be putting people ahead of corporations. These used to be bipartisan ideas. If they are not anymore, Republicans need to admit that they are no longer for the working man and woman, against children and the elderly, against our veterans when they get home, and against reality regarding climate change.
President Obama is fired up and taking aim. Wise Republicans (?) would recall what happened to Obama’s past opponents before stepping in more mud. But we all know this GOP is not wise at all.
In 2003, I was a student at the University of California at Santa Cruz when the city council became “the nation’s first local government to ask Congress to look into impeaching President Bush on charges he deceived the American public about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and has used the Sept. 11 attacks as an excuse to crush civil rights.” The resolution didn’t much matter but it got a lot of coverage — perhaps more on the right than on the left. There’s nothing a political party likes more than overreach on the other side.
The English language gets a bit fuzzy when it comes to American politics. The sentence “Republicans call for President Obama’s impeachment” might mean that the official Republican Party is swinging towards impeachment or that a handful of people who mark Republican on their party registration form are calling for impeachment.
In this case, it’s closer to the latter than the former. There’s been no organized effort among congressional Republicans to impeach Obama. There’s been no real support for impeachment forthcoming from congressional leadership. As Jonathan Bernstein writes, top Republicans could do more to distance themselves from the more extreme elements of the right, “but there’s a huge distance between a few delegates to state party conventions and a few loudmouth talk show types yammering about it and the U.S. House of Representatives actually doing it.”
There’s a real problem in American politics where people of one party get overexposed to —and end up overweighting — marginal voices in the other party. It’s a function of a more politically polarized media environment: there’s more audience in highlighting the most offensive comments from the other side than there is in highlighting the most important. The result is liberals end up with an incorrectly extreme view of the Republican Party, and vice versa.
Which isn’t even to say that important Republicans aren’t personally sympathetic to some of the arguments for impeachment. But John Boehner was a congressman in 1998, when the GOP’s impeachment overreach led to Democratic gains in a midterm Republicans should have won — and then to Speaker Newt Gingrich’s resignation. It’s not a play Boehner wants to repeat. (Slight sidenote: the impeachment of President Clinton is looked back on as a farce, and for the most part, it was. But it’s easy, with more than a decade of distance, to forget how morally outrageous Clinton’s actions were. Gingrich didn’t have the family life to pass judgment, but fury at Clinton was bipartisan and nonpolitical in a way that has no precedent right now.)Moreover, the clock is running out on Obama’s presidency. The midterms are coming, and Republicans look to be in the command position: they don’t want to do anything to interrupt their momentum. And unlike in the Clinton years, they don’t control the Senate: there’s no chance of impeachment going anywhere.
There’s an argument, increasingly popular among liberals, that after the midterms Republicans will control the Senate and then impeachment proceeding against Obama will begin in earnest. Barring some gamechanging scandal, I doubt it. The GOP’s anger at Obama won’t overwhelm their desire to win the 2016 election. And a party that wants to make gains among young and minority voters isn’t going to make them by spending two years trying, and failing, to impeach Obama. This is a party that is exceedingly rational about what’s required to win presidential campaigns. They nominated Mitt Romney, for Pete’s sake!