House Speaker John Boehner says he will sue President Obama claiming he has not “faithfully executed the law,” but said the suit is not a step towards impeachment.
The suit has grown out of Republican anger over the president’s growing use of executive orders.
“The Constitution makes it clear that a president’s job is to faithfully execute the laws,” said Boehner, R-Ohio. “In my view, the president has not faithfully executed the laws.”
Boehner is preparing to ask the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, known as BLAG, to file a lawsuit to counter Obama’s executive actions. BLAG consists of the senior echelon of House leadership whose responsibilities under House rules include instructing the House General Counsel to take legal action on behalf of the lower chamber.
Boehner refused to disclose today which executive actions the House would challenge.
“We have a system of government outlined in our Constitution with the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judicial branch,” he said. “Congress has its job to do and so does the president and when there’s conflicts like this between the legislative branch and the administrative branch, it’s in my view our responsibility to stand up for this institution in which we serve.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest was dismissive of Boehner’s lawsuit, suggesting it’s “not something that’s going to consume the attention of the White House.”
“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,” Earnest said “I think what most Americans would say is they want their leaders in Washington, D.C., to make progress on behalf of the American people.”
Earnest also predicted that a suit would not “be very warmly received by the American public”
Throughout his two terms in the Oval Office, Obama has irked Republicans with executive actions halting deportations of immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, raising the minimum wage for federal contractors and extending the family and medical leave benefits to gay couples. He has also delayed legislative deadlines for enacting provisions of the Affordable Care Act, such as putting off enforcement of the employer mandate.
Boehner insisted his move is not about setting a course towards impeaching the president.
“This is not about impeachment,” Boehner said. “This is about his faithfully executing the laws of our country.”
A spokesman to the speaker said that Boehner only hoped to compel Obama to enforce a number of laws, which are expected to be disclosed in the coming days.
The group consists of Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip/Majority Leader-Elect Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and the Minority Whip Steny Hoyer. Boehner, Cantor and McCarthy are Republicans. Pelosi and Hoyer are Democrats. Only a simple majority is required.
Boehner is expected to bring legislation to the floor after the Independence Day recess to authorize the House to file suit.
In 2011, Boehner convened the BLAG to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). That effort failed after the House spent about $2.3 million on legal representation.
Pelosi indicated she would oppose any effort to sue the president through the BLAG, calling the move “subterfuge” from Republicans hoping to distract voters from a legislative lull at the Capitol.
“They’re doing nothing here, and so they have to give some aura of activity,” said Pelosi, D-Calif. “Whatever the subject happens to be of the week, you can just go on the Internet and you can see what they’re screaming about there. You know there’ll be a reflection of it here.”
Pelosi asserted that Obama’s use of executive actions “hasn’t come anywhere near what Republican presidents have done” and expressed favor for a “broader interpretations of the law” than the White House counsel’s office has advised.
“The Republicans are saying they want to sue the president for not upholding the law. The president is looking at what his discretion is to use executive act of the administration,” Pelosi said. “[Obama] will act within his discretion for whatever it is, whether it’s prosecutorial discretion used to make judgments about who should be deported or not, and whatever else.”
ABC News’ Devin Dwyer contributed to this report