House plans to spend up to $350,000 on Obama suit


US Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner (R-OH) speaks to the media during his weekly press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA, July 31, 2014. EPA/PETE MAROVICH

House Republicans will pay up to $350,000 to sue President Obama, according to a contract Chair of the House Administration Committee Candice Miller (R-Mich.) signed Monday with Washington legal firm BakerHostetler.

The contract expires at noon on January 3, 2015, with BakerHostetler charging $500 an hour for their services. The paperwork authorizes $350,000 in congressional spending for the lawsuit against the president. David Rivkin Jr., a partner at the firm, will lead the firm's efforts on the suit.

“No President is above nor should operate beyond the limits of the Constitution," Miller said in a statement released Wednesday.

The GOP leadership intends to sue the president over the alleged abuse of his executive authority, particularly over the changes in the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) described the sum as an “outrageous waste of taxpayer dollars."

“Only in John Boehner’s world does it make sense to pay lawyers $500 per hour to work on a partisan lawsuit while refusing to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for hardworking Americans trying to feed their families," he said.

The House minority leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also attacked the House Republicans for wasting "time and taxpayer-dollars" on the lawsuit. “We finally know that Republicans have handed a $500-an-hour, no-bid contract to a Washington law firm for a lawsuit that lays the groundwork for impeachment and rallies the most extreme elements of the Republican Party,” she said.

Speaker John. A Boehner, who is leading the charge on the lawsuit, has denied suing Obama is political a stunt. "I don't take the House legal action against the President lightly," he said in July, but "the legislative branch has an obligation to defend the rights and responsibilities of the American people, and America's constitutional balance of powers -- before it is too late."

While the lawsuit will cost the Republican Party, it has already been profitable for the Democrats. By playing up talk of a possible presidential impeachment, which the GOP has vigorously denied, $7.6 million was raised in the first month after Speaker Boehner announced his intention to sue the president.

A precedent for big Republican legal bills has already been set: The GOP spent $2.3 million on legal fees in various court cases to battle the Obama administration's proposed changes to the Defense of Marriage Act.

Sebastian Payne is a national reporter with The Washington Post. He is the Post’s 35th Laurence Stern fellow.
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