WASHINGTON, July 31, 2014 — A relaxed and playful President Barack Obama addressed a partisan crowd at the historic uptown theater in Kansas City yesterday, taking several pokes at lawmakers for suing him while failing to act on a long “to do” list.
“I know they’re not that happy that I’m president,” Obama told the crowd of about 1500 supporters “I’ve only got a couple of years left. Come on, let’s get some work done. Then you can be mad at the next president.”
In reference to Congress, he said, “Stop being mad all the time. Stop just hating all the time. Come on.”
Obama, who clearly enjoyed the talk and frequently broke out in spontaneous laughter, also addressed the lawsuit the legislature is pushing forward. “But think about this — they have announced that they’re going to sue me for taking executive actions to help people. So they’re mad because I’m doing my job. And, by the way, I’ve told them — I said, I’d be happy to do it with you. So the only reason I’m doing it on my own is because you don’t do anything. But if you want, let’s work together.”
Amid roaring applause from supporters, Obama continued, “I mean, everybody recognizes this is a political stunt, but it’s worse than that, because every vote they’re taking like that means a vote they’re not taking to actually help you. When they have taken 50 votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, that was time that could have been spent working constructively to help you on some things. And, by the way, you know who is paying for this suit they’re going to file? You.”
Congress, which has earned the nickname “the do-nothing Congress” for failing to pass fewer laws than any other Congress in U.S. recorded history, did manage to pass two actions yesterday.
In a bipartisan effort, Congress passed a bill to reform the Veterans Administration. In a 420-5 vote, the House approved the legislation sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) to spend $17 billion to fix the badly broken system. The bill allows the VA secretary expanded authority to fire employees accused of mismanagement. It also allows veterans to seek medical care from private doctors if they have to wait more than 14 days for treatment.
The House also passed a highly partisan effort authorizing Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) to proceed with a lawsuit against President Obama. The suite alleges that Obama has overstepped the authority granted to the Executive Branch and will focus on the decision by Obama to grant an extra year before forcing employers to provide health care or face a penalty.
The divisive effort passed 225-201. Five Republicans voted against the lawsuit, and no Democrats backed the initiative.
The litigation could eventually lead to a decision by the Supreme Court over the authorities granted by the Constitution to the branches of government.
Historically, courts have demurred on intervening in political disputes between the different branches of government, but it is unclear how this suit will proceed.
Courts will likely examine whether the House suit meets the legal standard showing harm. It is unclear whether the House can show it has been harmed by the decision. This is particularly tricky because the House is suing Obama for failing to enforce a law it has opposed and attempted to repeal.
Additionally, courts are likely to examine whether the House has standing to sue the Executive.
However, both parties are likely to use the litigation as fodder ahead of the November mid-term elections. Obama is already leading the charge, with Republicans sure to follow.
The lawsuit allows more mainstream Republicans to show action against the President without stepping into murky impeachment waters.
Although Boehner has repeatedly refused to consider impeachment, and media outlets suggest Democrats are pushing impeachment talk to undermine serious concerns about Obama, conservative Republicans continue to push the idea. The Twitter hashtag #impeachObama remains active, and some conservative legislators and commentators – including Sarah Palin – say it remains an option.
As politicians gear up for campaigning ahead of the mid-term elections, neither the Executive nor Congress seems particularly popular.
The daily Rasmussen poll shows President Obama with a lukewarm 45 percent approval rate.
However, that number is stellar compared with Congress, which currently enjoys an approval rate hovering around 13 percent as of July 22, according to Fox News.