House passes GOP-backed bill that would make it easier for Congress to sue a president

March 12, 2014

The House passed a measure Wednesday that would expedite lawsuits brought by Congress against a president who fails to fully enforce federal laws.

The GOP-backed measure passed 233 to 181 and was the latest in a string of measures designed to calm the Republicans’ divided ranks by raising doubts about President Obama’s leadership during a midterm election year. Five moderate Democrats joined with every voting Republican to approve the bill.

Under the bill, lawmakers who are concerned that a president isn’t fully executing a law would be able to file a lawsuit directly to a three-judge panel on a federal district court and appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

But the White House said Wednesday that Obama would veto the legislation, and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) called the measure “dead on arrival” in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Before the vote, GOP lawmakers blasted the Obama administration on Wednesday for failing to fully enforce several federal laws, including the Affordable Care Act, current immigration policy, sentencing laws and the federal ban on same-sex marriage.

“The Constitution gives Congress the responsibility to write the laws and the executive to enforce them,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), a lead sponsor. “We don’t pass suggestions. We don’t pass ideas. We pass laws.”

Several Democrats suggested that the “do-nothing Congress” was seeking to punish Obama for being a “do-something president.” Other Democrats argued that the bill would force Obama to reverse his decision to focus on deporting violent criminals and repeat offenders instead of the children of undocumented immigrants.

Immigration activists reacted angrily and cited debate on the bill in the House Judiciary Committee, where several Republicans criticized Obama for deciding not to deport those children, often referred to as “dreamers.”

The DREAM Coalition, a group representing the children of undocumented immigrants, said the vote “demonstrates Republicans can no longer be relied upon to bring up a sensible and practicable immigration reform bill this year.”

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.
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