House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced Wednesday that he's pushing the House of Representatives to sue President Obama "in an effort to compel the president to follow his oath of office and faithfully execute the laws of our country."
He did not say which specific laws the suit will say the president has not enforced, although he wrote in a letter addressed to his House colleagues that Mr. Obama has "run an end-around on the American people and their elected legislators" on issues ranging from health care, to energy, to foreign policy and education.
"On one matter after another during his presidency, President Obama has circumvented the Congress through executive action, creating his own laws and excusing himself from executing statutes he is sworn to enforce - at times even boasting about his willingness to do it, as if daring the America people to stop him," Boehner said. He warned that allowing the pattern to continue unchecked " shifts the balance of power decisively and dangerously in favor of the presidency, giving the president king-like authority at the expense of the American people and their elected legislators."
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that the president had taken action consistent with this executive authority because of Republican opposition. Now, he said, they have "shifted their opposition into a higher gear."
"Frankly, it's a gear that I didn't know previously existed. The fact that they are considering a taxpayer funded lawsuit against the president of the United States for doing his job, I think is the kind of step that most Americans wouldn't support," he said.
Boehner laid out a timeline in which he'll bring a bill to the House floor in July that would authorize the House General Counsel and the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) to sue the president.
The BLAG recently directed the House's lawyers' involvement in a case about the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act in court after the Obama administration said it no longer would. Over the objections of the Democrats in the group, the House spent more than $2 million defending the law before it was found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court last June.
Boehner and House Republicans have frequently critiqued any unilateral action taken by the president, especially in matters pertaining to the health care law and immigration. On the latter issue, Boehner has said that his members refuse to consider any legislation to reform the immigration system because the president cannot even be trusted to enforce laws already on the books.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Boehner rejected a suggestion from a reporter that the lawsuit offered a way to energize GOP voters ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.
"This is about defending the institution in which we serve," he said. "On behalf of the institution and our constitution, standing up and fighting for this is in the best long-term interest of the Congress.
In a separate press conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the lawsuit was "subterfuge."
"As I've said they're doing nothing here so they have to give some aura of activity," she said.