Ever since the 2010 mid-term elections when the radical far-right Tea Party infiltrated the ranks of the Republican Party, the House of Representatives have produced more partisan gridlock than in the history of our country. Instead of governing like other congresses, because of the Tea Party faction, the most legislative “priorities” brought to the House floor by Speaker Boehner have been over 50 attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). Along with its vile rhetoric and personal attacks on President Obama and his family, the Tea Party splinter group has succeeded in terrorizing other Republicans with the threat of primary challenges that has produced a severely fractured Republican Party. Not only has this faction been successful in attempting to hold America hostage by failing to increase the 2011 debt limit that caused our perfect credit rating to be downgraded, under the leadership of Ted Cruz, they “shut down” the entire Federal government for over two weeks costing the American taxpayer well over twenty-five million dollars.
In a partisan vote on July 30, 2014, inspired by the Tea Party, the House of Representatives approved a resolution to authorize Speaker Boehner to initiate a law suit against the President, something that has never been done before. Five Republicans joined a unanimous Democratic Caucus in opposition to the resolution.
In a floor speech during debate on the bill, Boehner said the vote was not about differences between Republicans and Democrats, but was “about defending the Constitution that we swore an oath to uphold, and acting decisively when it may be compromised.”
“No member of this body needs to be reminded of what the Constitution states about the president’s obligation to faithfully execute the laws of our nation. No member needs to be reminded of the bonds of trust that have been frayed, of the damage that’s already been done to our economy and to our people,” Boehner said. “Are you willing to let any president choose what laws to execute and what laws to change? Are you willing to let anyone tear apart what our founders have built?
During the week of June 30, 2014, Democrats complained that Republicans will potentially waste millions of dollars with what they called a “political stunt” that they believe will put the GOP on track to impeach the President. “This lawsuit is frivolous. It is also wasteful and without merit,” Democrat Marc Veasey said during debate on the bill, which he voted against. “We must focus on critical legislative priorities instead of political lawsuits that will do nothing but waste millions of taxpayers’ dollars.”
Democrat Adam Schiff, who also voted against the measure, questioned whether the House even has standing to sue the President over what he termed “a policy difference.”
“The House cannot speak for the Senate which doesn’t agree with its position, and, therefore, cannot represent the legislative branch,” Schiff said during debate on the bill. “This Congress has a remedy: if it does not like the way in which the President has implemented the Affordable Care Act, it can change the law. That would be a far better approach, one more consistent with our separation of powers than this expensive and ill-conceived lawsuit.” And a lot less costly, I might add.
A U.S. District Court judge will have the final word whether the House actually has standing to sue the President, but the vote to sue will almost certainly be one of the recurring soundtracks during the countdown to the fall elections.
Immediately following the vote, Greg Walden, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, sent out a fundraising email with the subject line “Give Obama Hell!” that sought to stimulate 1,500 new grassroots supporters.
The White House reacted quickly by making it clear that the President will continue to take executive actions if Congress continues to block him legislatively. “President Obama is ready and willing to work with Republicans in Congress if they decide to get serious and do something for the American people,” the statement read, “But he is also committed to acting however he can to help more working families — even as Congress won’t.”
Republicans have grumbled about a range of Obama administration executive actions, including regulations out of the Environmental Protection Agency. The speaker’s office argues that the President effectively created his own law by waiving the mandate and the penalties that come with the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) last year.
The delay last year came after concerns from the business community about the law’s requirement to provide coverage for full-time workers. The administration granted a second delay earlier this year, giving employers with between 50 and 99 workers until 2016 to comply.
“This is not about impeachment,” Boehner said. “This is about faithfully executing the laws of our country.” But what many say that the speaker is doing is creating the groundwork to impeach the President in order to placate Tea Party Republicans and its right-wing radical base.
The Tea Party faction in both the House and Senate, although a minority, actually controls Boehner and the House Republican caucus. Its influence is so strong that head Tea Partier, Senator Ted Cruz, persuaded House Republicans not to vote on a Boehner sponsored measure to provide resources to deal with the immigration and border crises. Rather than risk defeat of his bill, Boehner pulled it from the calendar. In the waning hours before adjourning for the August vacation, Boehner was able to get something passed that basically ignored the bi-partisan Senate Bill and probably will not even be considered by the Senate. It is interesting to note that public approval of the Boehner led House is 7%; even head lice is more popular.
Speaker Boehner recently claimed that the House was “working its tail off” and there may be some merit to that statement. For example, they passed over 50 bills to repeal Obamacare, spent millions of taxpayer dollars in hearings on so called Benghazi, Fast and Furious and IRS scandals, caused our credit to be downgraded by threatening not to raise the debt ceiling, shut down the government for over two weeks costing over 25 million taxpayer dollars, and recently passed a resolution authorizing the Speaker to sue the President for delaying part of the Health Care law to allow businesses time to adjust, something that House Republicans were in favor of. So to that extent, I guess they have been working albeit accomplishing nothing substantive to move the country forward.
Yet Republicans argue that the House has passed over 300 bills that are stalled in the Senate which include radical changes in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, higher taxes on the middle class why lowering taxes on the wealthy, additional tax breaks for corporations, and 51 bills to repeal the Health Care law, just to name a few.
In my view, the Boehner House of Representatives will be remembered as the most unproductive and divisive House in history, all because he has allowed the Tea Party to take control especially Senator Ted Cruz, to completely dominate the House Republican caucus. I believe that a majority of the American people is fed up with the obstruction and divisiveness because of this radical fringe of the Republican caucus and will reflect that displeasure at the polls in November 2014, but that’s just my take.