MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. It's considered a long shot, but House Republicans are pushing ahead with a plan to sue President Obama. They accuse him of trying to sidestep Congress and make his own laws. House Speaker John Boehner says the lawsuit will focus on the administration's decision to postpone a mandate in the Affordable Care Act - the one that requires large employers to provide health insurance for their workers. As NPR's Scott Horsley reports, both the president and Republicans are using the suit to score political points.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: The White House describes the lawsuit as a taxpayer-funded political stunt. President Obama used the suit as a punch line this week during a boisterous campaign-style rally in Austin, Texas. He told the friendly crowd there, Republicans are upset with him just for doing his job.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I've got a better idea. Do something. If you're mad at me for helping people on my own, let's team up. Let pass some bills.

HORSLEY: Obama complains that Republican lawmakers, especially in the House, have blocked action that many Americans support such as immigration reform and a higher minimum wage.

OBAMA: They're commonsense things. They're not that radical. We know it's what we should be doing. And what drives me nuts, and I know it drives you nuts, is Washington isn't doing it.

HORSLEY: In the face of congressional stalemates, Obama says he'll continue to exercise his executive powers whenever possible. He's already ordered federal contractors to pay their workers a higher minimum wage. And two years ago, his administration granted temporary legal status to young people who'd been brought to the country illegally as children. Republican House Speaker John Boehner says the president has overstepped his authority. That's why the Republican-led rules committee will meet next week to consider green-lighting the lawsuit.

CONGRESSMAN JOHN BOEHNER: This isn't about me suing the president. It's not about Republicans versus Democrats. This is about the legislative branch that's being disadvantaged by the executive branch.

HORSLEY: Obama suggests the complaints are driven by party politics. While he'll often highlight executive orders to show he's not hamstrung by Congress, he notes he's actually issued fewer of them than any president since Grover Cleveland.

OBAMA: Republicans didn't seem to mind when President Bush took more executive actions than I did. Maybe it's just me they don't like. I don't know.

HORSLEY: Boehner counters, it's not the number of executive orders that matters.

BOEHNER: What were talking about, here, are places where the president is basically rewriting law to make it fit his own needs.

HORSLEY: The Supreme Court has already found that Obama went too far in some cases this year, striking down some of his recess appointments, for example, and a provision in the Affordable Care Act requiring most employers to provide insurance coverage for birth control. In their lawsuit, though, Republicans have chosen to focus on a part of the healthcare law that's not being enforced. The administration decided last year to postpone the requirement that large employers provide health insurance. In effect, Republicans are fighting the decision to suspend a requirement that they didn't like in the first place. In Texas this week, Obama said he's interested in solving problems, not staging photo-ops. The picture developing in Washington remains one of a deeply divided government. Scott Horsley, NPR News, The White House.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.