House Republicans on Wednesday passed a bill giving Congress the authority to take Barack Obama and future presidents to court if the White House purposely refuses to enforce the laws of the lands.
The measure passed on a mostly party line vote of 233-181, with only five Democrats siding with Republicans. The Colorado delegation split on a strict party-line vote with Republican Reps. Mike Coffman, Cory Gardner, Doug Lamborn and Scott Tipton voting yes, and Democratic Reps. Diana DeGette, Jared Polis and Ed Perlmutter voting no.
Republicans listed numerous laws they say Obama has ignored including multiple delays of his own signature law, Obamacare. Also frustrating Republicans is the administration’s refusal to deport certain illegal immigrants, the rollback of welfare work requirements, and recess appointments.
“We don’t pass suggestions in this body,” said Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, the bill’s author. “We don’t pass ideas, we pass laws. And we expect them to be faithfully executed.”
The Faithful Execution of the Law Act would require agencies to report to Congress when laws aren’t enforced.
“Ours is a nation of laws, not a nation of random enforcement,” said Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican.
Republican Rep. Rich Nugent of Florida said it is the responsibility of Congress to keep the executive branch power in check and that court action in many cases would be necessary.
“The truth is we can’t trust this president to enforce the law truthfully and faithfully, and that’s a shame,” Nugent said.
“I don’t take it as a joke to defend and protect the Constitution,” Nugent said.
Democrats called the measure an embarrassing political ploy and a waste of time.
“This is not about serious legislation, this is about political statements,” said Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts. “This is another politically motivated week of ‘Let’s go after the president.’”
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas Democrat, challenged the authority of the bill, but stumbled in her argument to defeat the measure.
“We have lasted some 400 years operating under a Constitution that clearly defined what is constitutional and what is not,” Lee said.
The U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1788.
Although numerous Senate Republicans are backing a companion measure in the upper chamber, the measure will arrive there on life-support with little chance that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would bring it to the floor for a vote.
Meanwhile, Obama has already threatened to veto the measure should it pass Congress.