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House backs bill to sue president for not enforcing federal laws, such as DOMA

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
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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 recognition of same-sex marriage.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais,  APBarack Obama

Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP
Barack Obama

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.

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.”

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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.

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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