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Mike Lee: Obama is making a 'shameless power grab'

Published February 16, 2014 4:44 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Washington • Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said Sunday that President Barack Obama is violating the Constitution through his use of executive orders and creating a "government of one" that bypasses Congress to get what he wants.

Lee, speaking on Fox News Sunday, criticized Obama for delaying a mandate that businesses with 50 to 99 employees provide health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, a move that Lee says should have been brought through legislation and not executive power.

"This is a shameless act, a shameless power grab that is designed to help the president and his political party achieve a particular outcome in a partisan election," Lee told host Chris Wallace. "And that's wrong."

The Utah Republican, a former Supreme Court clerk, said he's not planning to file a lawsuit challenging Obama's actions because it would be hard to prove that as a senator he is affected. But he said Obama is acting as a "super executive" and if he can cite the tax code as a reason for the latest health care law delay, then "there's almost no limit to his authority."

"We can't ignore the fact that we've got a president who is acting as if he's got a government of one simply because he can't always get exactly what he wants out of Congress," Lee said.

California Rep. Xavier Becerra, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, countered on Fox News Sunday that Obama is using the same powers that every president has and is doing so because small businesses have asked for the delay.

"The president [is] simply providing small businesses with a flexibility they need to be able to start adopting the law," Becerra said on the Sunday show. "Small businesses support the flexibility and the president is making sure that we implement this in a way that puts into effect the purpose of the law, which is to give people more health security."

Wallace pointed out to Lee that some of Obama's predecessors have actually used executive orders more often than the current president, but Lee said that it wasn't a fair analogy.

"Not all executive orders are equal," Lee said.

tburr@sltrib.com