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President Barack Obama speaks before signing a document proclaiming the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands as part of the California Coastal National Monument, Tuesday, March 11, 2014, during a signing ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. The action will permanently protect some 1,665 acres of federal lands on the Mendocino County coast in Northern California, just north of Point Arena. It will expand a national monument created in 2000 by President Bill Clinton to include coastal bluffs and shelves, tide pools, onshore sand dunes, coastal prairies, riverbanks and the mouth and estuary of the Garcia River. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
House backs bill to sue Obama
Politics » Republicans rip him on health care law, young immigrants and gay marriage.
First Published Mar 12 2014 06:27 pm • Last Updated Mar 12 2014 07:06 pm

BC-US--House-Presidential Power, 1st Ld-Writethru,531

House backs bill to sue president over laws

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Eds: Updates with details, background. With AP Photos.

By DONNA CASSATA

Associated Press

WASHINGTON • Casting Barack Obama as a president run amok, the House voted on Wednesday for a bill that would expedite congressional lawsuits against the chief executive for failure to enforce federal laws.

The vote was 233-181 in the Republican-led House as GOP lawmakers excoriated Obama for multiple changes to his 4-year-old health care law, steps he’s taken to allow young immigrants to remain in the United States and the administration’s resistance to defend the federal law banning gay marriage.

Ignoring a White House veto threat, the GOP maintained that the bill was necessary as the president has selectively enforced the nation’s laws.

"Throughout the Obama presidency we have seen a pattern: President Obama circumvents Congress when he doesn’t get his way," said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the Judiciary Committee.


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Democrats countered that the legislation was merely election-year rhetoric to address a non-existent problem. The measure stands no chance in the Democratic-led Senate.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., defended Obama and said Republicans weren’t satisfied with a "do-nothing Congress," they wanted to "have a do-nothing president."

Under the bill, the House or Senate would have a fast track for any civil lawsuit against the president if that president "failed to meet the requirement of Article II, section 3, clause 17, of the Constitution of the United States to take care that a law be faithfully executed."

Once litigated in district court, any appeals would be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Republicans cited the Obama administration’s delays on several deadlines of the Affordable Care Act that the president signed into law in March 2010. Obama has drawn criticism for his June 2012 decision to allow young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children to gain legal status and remain in the United States if they attend school or join the military.

Republicans also have assailed Obama for tougher action on the environment.

"The president’s dangerous search for expanded powers appears to be endless," said Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., sponsor of the bill, read a series of statements by Obama when he was an Illinois senator in which he warned of the encroachment of the executive on the powers of the other branches of government.

In urging support, Gowdy said Congress is "not held in high public esteem right now. Maybe we would be respected more if we respected ourselves."

Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, highlighted past unilateral actions by chief executives, including President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation declaring the freedom of all slaves and President Harry S. Truman’s integration of the military.

The Obama administration said in a statement that the bill exceeds constitutional limits, and Congress cannot assign additional powers to itself.

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