WASHINGTON — Nevada Republicans in Congress say the courts ought to be able to review whether President Barack Obama is violating the constitutional separation of powers. Democrats say the idea is a political stunt wasting time and money.
Like most of the U.S. House on Wednesday, lawmakers from the Silver State divided by party lines in voting whether to authorize a lawsuit against the president for executive actions he has taken to revise requirements of the Affordable Care Act, a target of relentless Republican opposition since it was passed four years ago.
Republicans Joe Heck and Mark Amodei voted to sue. Democrats Steven Horsford and Dina Titus voted against the suit. The House voted 225-201 to authorize House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to move forward and sue.
Heck insisted the vote wasn’t about politics.
“It is about the Constitution and three separate but co-equal branches of government,” he said in a statement. “A president, any president, cannot unilaterally change or interpret legislation as passed by the Congress and signed into law. The Constitution says the president must faithfully execute the laws, and makes clear that only the legislative branch has the power to legislate.
Amodei said he hears from constituents “every day … asking why we don’t do something about the president’s attempts to make his own laws and his disregard for the constitutional separation of powers. This is doing something.
“It is an appropriate question to put to the third branch of government to see if the founders’ system of checks and balances really expired in 2008,” when Obama was elected.
Democrats saw nothing but politics in the vote.
Titus charged the lawsuit was meant to distract attention from House Republicans failing to pass substantial legislation.
“Instead of playing political games at the expense of taxpayers, we should be raising the minimum wage, fixing our broken immigration system, and renewing unemployment insurance,” Titus said. “Speaker Boehner’s lawsuit against the president is nothing more than a partisan attack meant to distract from the long list of unfinished business left in the House,”
“This lawsuit undermines what little remaining respect of what this House has left,” Horsford said. Republicans “will do for the first time in history something that has never been done, which is to sue the American president because they don’t agree with him.”
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-783-1760. Find him on Twitter: @STetreaultDC.