John Boehner and his caucus continued their political theatrics on a grand scale today by forcing the United States House of Representatives to vote on a resolution authorizing John Boehner to initiate litigation against Barack Obama for failing to properly discharge his duties as President of the United States of America.
All but five Republicans voted in favor of the resolution, resulting in its passage by a vote of two hundred and twenty-five to two hundred and one. No Democrats voted aye. Three Democrats and three Republicans did not cast votes.
In a lengthy floor speech opposing the resolution, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi eviscerated John Boehner and the Republicans for wasting the American people’s time and money on a baseless lawsuit designed to score political points with the far right. Here’s an excerpt from her remarks:
The lawsuit is only the latest proof of the House Republicans’ contempt and disregard for the priorities of the American people.
It is yet another Republican effort to pander to the most radical right-wing voters at taxpayers’ expense: $2.3 million spent defending DOMA – a doomed case – defending DOMA, more than $3 million on the Select Committee to exploit Benghazi – and by the way, something that had been investigated again and again, at the very admission of leaders on the Republican side. Why are we doing this? And then this, which we don’t have a price tag on that they will reveal to us.
But again, why would you sue somebody unless you want to prove something? And why would you go down that path unless you wanted to do something about it?
But the fact is: Republicans in Congress have no standing on this suit. Most constitutional scholars have, or do, admit that. Even your expert witnesses have in the past said you don’t have standing on it.
Middle class families don’t have time for the Republican partisan grudge match with the President. They know this is – it’s a funny thing – well funny in one strange interpretation of the word ‘funny’: but a couple of weeks ago, on the steps of the Capitol, House Democrats were there to launch our ‘Middle Class Jumpstart’ about some of the issues I raised: job creation here in the US, affordability for college, early childhood education, all of those things, equal pay for equal work, raise the minimum wage. We were doing that on the steps of the Capitol.
And in the Capitol building, the Republicans were launching their lawsuit against the President. What could be more different in terms of addressing the needs of the American people? We made the point that this was all happening on the same day.
In Kansas City, Missouri, President Obama echoed Pelosi’s comments, slamming House Republicans for their hypocrisy (they refuse to do their jobs while charging that he isn’t doing his). From the transcript of his speech at the Uptown Theater:
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.
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 fifty 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.
The roll call vote from the Pacific Northwest on the resolution broke down strictly along party lines and was as follows:
Voting Aye: Republicans Jaime Herrera-Beutler, Doc Hastings, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Dave Reichert (WA), Raúl Labrador and Mike Simpson (ID), Greg Walden (OR), Steve Daines (MT), Don Young (AK)
Voting Nay: Democrats Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Jim McDermott, Denny Heck, and Adam Smith (WA); Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader (OR)
The five Republicans who voted against the resolution were Scott Garrett of New Jersey, Walter Jones of North Carolina, Paul Broun of Georgia (a member of the Tea Party faction), Thomas Massie of Kentucky, and Steve Stockman of Texas.
The Democratic National Committee and the party’s two congressional campaign committees have already been using the threat of the lawsuit to raise record sums of money this cycle from donors, and are already using today’s vote as fodder to raise even more. An email from DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has just gone out urging Democratic donors to “chip in” to fight the Republicans.
“I just walked off the floor of the House after the Republican majority voted to sue the President of the United States for the first time in our history,” the email, signed by Schultz, begins. It goes on to say, “I wish I could say it was surprising, Andrew. But frankly, with these folks, endless stunts and empty-headed wastes of time have become the norm. After today’s vote, it couldn’t be more clear that it’s time to elect Democrats and send this shutdown/lawsuit crowd packing.”
Jason Ritchie, who is among four Democrats challenging Washington State’s incumbent Republicans for House this cycle, condemned his opponent Dave Reichert (who has claimed in the past to be an independent thinker) for voting in lockstep with the House Republican leadership. (There exists, if you haven’t seen it, a great clip of Reichert admitting that he does what he’s told when he’s back in D.C.).
“The people of the 8th District want an end to partisanship and gridlock. Instead Congressman Reichert voted to spend taxpayer money suing the President. He and his D.C. friends are wasting taxpayers’ time and money on a frivolous lawsuit when they could be addressing real economic issues like infrastructure and immigration,” said Ritchie in a statement sent to NPI.