House of Representatives

House finally sues over Obamacare

Boehner sues Obama

Late last week, the House of Representatives filed suit against Obamacare, naming Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and their departments as defendants. The House passed H. Res. 676 in July, giving Spoeker Boehner the authority to begin the litigation process. Noticeably absent from the suit is President Obama, who was not named as a defendant.

POLITICO’s account of the suit lays out the claims made by the House:

The new lawsuit claims that two specific aspects of implementation of the Obamacare law violated the terms of the legislation.

First, the suit complains about repeated delays of the employer mandate, which was supposed to kick in in January of this year. The administration delayed the requirement until next year for some employers and until 2016 for others.

Second, the litigation challenges payments to insurance companies under a cost-sharing provision that the suit argues was never authorized by law. Such “offset” payments amounted to $3 billion in 2014 and could total $175 billion over 10 years, the House claims.

“The administration is instead unlawfully and unconstitutionally using funds from a separate Treasury Department account — authorized for other purposes — to pay insurance companies and thereby unilaterally altering the structure of the health care law,” Boehner’s office said.

Why the new Republican Congress has a mandate — in one chart

.

On January 23, 2009, in a meeting with Congressional leaders about his stimulus proposal, newly-inaugurated President Obama responded to Republican critiques of his plan with, “I won.” In another meeting on February 25, 2010, this time about the soon-to-be-passed healthcare law, Obama responded to a question from John McCain about kickbacks in the bill with, “The election’s over.” And in a November 5, 2014 press conference after the recent midterm elections, President Obama still maintained the same stubborn arrogance about his political position by arguing that the 2/3 of the country who didn’t vote still support him. The facts, however, paint an entirely different picture.

On Election Day 2014 as each state’s results rolled in, and more Senate seats and even deep blue state governorships fell to the GOP, it was clear a wave election was taking place. Usually when a wave happens, the new majority party has mandate to pursue their policy. The Republican Revolution of 1994 caused President Clinton to retreat and compromise with the new majority on many planks of their Contract with America.

It’s time for some accountability: House of Representatives passes Audit the Fed bill

The House of Representatives passed, by an overwhelming margin, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act (H.R. 24), a measure that would require a meaningful audit of the United States’ central bank.

There was some question whether House Republican leaders would bring the measure to the floor for a vote, but, thanks to grassroots efforts to encourage members to cosponsor the bill, its popularity couldn’t be ignored. The Federal Reserve Transparency Act, which had gained more than 218 cosponsors, passed the lower chamber in a 333 to 92 vote.

“For the past 100 years, the Federal Reserve, a quasi-government agency, has acted under a veil of secrecy – controlling our monetary policy and thus, our economy. While in recent years, the Fed has been granted a greater role in overseeing the regulation of our financial system, current law specifically prohibits audits of the Federal Reserve’s deliberations, decisions, or actions on monetary policy,” said Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), who introduced the measure in January 2013. “This lack of accountability and transparency has led to grievous consequences — and it must end.”

About time: House of Representatives condemns Barack Obama’s Taliban prisoner swap

The House of Representatives slammed President Barack Obama early Tuesday evening with the passage of a resolution “[c]ondemning and disapproving” of his administration’s failure to notify Congress of the release prisoners as required by law — in this case, five Taliban leaders — from the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba:

The measure passed largely along party lines in a 249-163 vote, but 22 Democrats broke ranks to rebuke the president, with just two months to go before the midterm elections.

The executive branch is required by the 2014 Defense Appropriations Act to notify Congress at least 30 days before transferring prisoners at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility. A Government Accountability Office report found last month that the administration violated the law by not adhering to the requirement.
[…]
The resolution further states that the exchange hurt the administration’s relationships with lawmakers. The text says that “these actions have burdened unnecessarily the trust and confidence in the commitment and ability of the Obama administration to constructively engage and work with Congress.”

Republican-controlled House Ethics Committee quietly changes lobbyist-paid travel reporting requirements for lawmakers

The Republican-controlled House Ethics Committee has removed a requirement that lawmakers report trips paid for by lobbyists on their annual financial disclosures, according to National Journal, making it easier for them to hide which special interest groups are paying for them to travel:

The move, made behind closed doors and without a public announcement by the House Ethics Committee, reverses more than three decades of precedent. Gifts of free travel to lawmakers have appeared on the yearly financial form dating back its creation in the late 1970s, after the Watergate scandal. National Journal uncovered the deleted disclosure requirement when analyzing the most recent batch of yearly filings.

“This is such an obvious effort to avoid accountability,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “There’s no legitimate reason. There’s no good reason for it.”

Free trips paid for by private groups must still be reported separately to the House’s Office of the Clerk and disclosed there. But they will now be absent from the chief document that reporters, watchdogs, and members of the public have used for decades to scrutinize lawmakers’ finances.

“The more you can hide, the less accountable you can be,” Sloan said of lawmakers. “It’s clear these forms are useful for reporters and watchdogs, and obviously a little too useful.”

Constitutional conservatives like Raúl Labrador are changing the way Washington does business

Raul Labrador

Michigan Congressman Justin Amash took to Facebook after last year’s vote for Speaker of the House to explain why he picked little-known Idaho sophomore Congressman Raúl Labrador:

I voted for Raúl R. Labrador to be Speaker of the House for the 113th Congress of the United States of America. As I said at the time, Raúl would defend liberty and work honestly with Democrats on debt reduction. He would make a great Speaker.

The vote was one of a dozen “not John Boehner” votes cast by conservative Republicans, likely in protest of a decision to strip a number of them of Committee assignments.

Rep. Labrador abstained from voting for Speaker at the time.

Gracy Olmstead, writing in the American Conservative, details Labrador’s background and appeal as a leader within the conservative ranks of the Republican caucus. Of Labrador and the other recently-elected independent-minded conservatives, she notes:

Today Labrador sees himself as one of a “core group of conservatives” who are bringing change to Congress. He describes them as young and independent, “conservative-leaning-libertarian types,” all willing to defy the establishment in an effort to get things done. One might reasonably assume that Sen. Mike Lee, Congressman Amash, and many from the Liberty Caucus fit within this cohort.

A Boehner-less House isn’t just good for conservatives, it’s good for the Republican Party

There have been several stories in recent months about House conservatives discontent with Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), which, some have speculated, means that his job could be in jeopardy when the new Congress convenes in January. But there’s also suspicion that he may not stick around next year.

Yeah, Boehner is running for reelection, recently dispatching two primary challengers, but he hasn’t done much to put an end to the guessing game. He bought a condo in South Florida earlier this year and one of his top aides bolted for a job with the health insurance lobby. Boehner recently, when asked, said he couldn’t guarantee that he’d finish another term as Speaker.

There’s also Boehner’s attitude toward members of his own conference. He openly derided House conservatives last month over their attitudes on immigration reform. He, of course, denied that he was mocking his conservative colleagues, though he did meet with them behind closed doors to control the damage he’d done.

Obama is so out of touch with reality he’s blaming the Framers of the Constitution for the rejection of his unpopular agenda

President Barack Obama is now blaming the framers of the Constitution for his political problems. At a recent fundraiser, he lamented the Constitution’s design and structure of the Senate, calling it a “disadvantage” for his agenda and the Democratic Party:

At a Democratic fundraiser in Chicago Thursday night, Mr. Obama told a small group of wealthy supporters that there are several hurdles to keeping Democrats in control of the Senate and recapturing the House. One of those problems, he said, is the apportionment of two Senate seats to each state regardless of population.

“Obviously, the nature of the Senate means that California has the same number of Senate seats as Wyoming. That puts us at a disadvantage,” Mr. Obama said.
[…]
The president also blamed “demographics” for the inability of the Democratic Party to gain more power in Congress, saying Democrats “tend to congregate a little more densely” in cities such as New York and Chicago. He said it gives Republicans disproportional clout in Congress.

“So there are some structural reasons why, despite the fact that Republican ideas are largely rejected by the public, it’s still hard for us to break through,” Mr. Obama said.

The structure of the Legislative Branch was forged out of the Connecticut Compromise — “compromise,” there’s a word about which President Obama knows nothing — that was essential to breaking gridlock at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. States got proportional representation based on population in the House and, to settle concerns of smaller states, the Senate was compromised of two members from each state.

The House should pass the USA FREEDOM Act as-is and dare Obama to veto it

There’s some very concerning news on the push inside the House of Representatives to end the NSA’s bulk data collection programs. Negotiations with the White House could mean that the USA FREEDOM Act will be further watered down before it heads to the floor for a vote, potentially putting the best NSA reform measure in jeopardy:

Privacy advocates are worried that a bill intended to reform the surveillance activities of the National Security Agency (NSA) is being watered down before it heads to the House floor.

“Last stage negotiations” between members of the House and the Obama administration could significantly weaken provisions in the NSA bill, people familiar with the discussions say.

“Behind the scenes, there’s some nervousness,” one House aide said.
[…]
While pro-reform advocacy groups and members hailed the House bill as a positive first step, many lamented the revisions and said the legislation will be in trouble on the floor if it undergoes further changes.

There is a “growing chorus of concern” that the bill that makes it to the floor for a vote could be a less meaningful version of what passed the Judiciary and Intelligence committees with overwhelming bipartisan support, the aide said.

Though the measure was somewhat watered down before it passed the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month, the USA FREEDOM Act remained the best of the proposed measures to end the NSA’s bulk data collection programs, and it has broad, bipartisan support. Further changes could make the reforms in the measure unacceptable to privacy advocates both inside and outside of Congress.

Trey Gowdy to lead House’s search for truth on Benghazi

Trey Gowdy

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced this afternoon that Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) will lead the select committee to investigate the deadly 2012 attack on the American outpost in Benghazi, Libya.

“With four of our countrymen killed at the hands of terrorists, the American people want answers, accountability, and justice,” Boehner said in a statement. “Trey Gowdy is as dogged, focused, and serious-minded as they come. His background as a federal prosecutor and his zeal for the truth make him the ideal person to lead this panel.”

Boehner announced plans to hold a vote, which could come as early as this week, to establish a select committee on the Benghazi attack, a decision was spurred by the disclosure of previously unreleased emails between White House and Obama administration officials.

“I know [Gowdy] shares my commitment to get to the bottom of this tragedy and will not tolerate any stonewalling from the Obama administration. I plan to ensure he and his committee have the strongest authority possible to root out all the facts. This is a big job, but Rep. Gowdy has the confidence of this conference, and I know his professionalism and grit will earn him the respect of the American people,” Boehner added.

 


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.