President Obama won’t stop using his executive power because of the threat of a lawsuit by House Republican leaders, White House Press Secretary Joshua Earnest said Thursday.
“The fact of the matter is the president is not going to be cowed into failing to use the authority that is vested in the presidency to make progress on behalf of middle-class families all across the country,” Mr. Earnest said on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown.”
House Speaker John Boehner has vowed a vote this year on whether to sue Mr. Obama for not faithfully executing laws, as required by the U.S. Constitution. Republicans have long bristled at Mr. Obama using executive action to circumvent Congress, including measures that altered environmental, immigration and health care law.
Mr. Earnest said that the lawsuit hasn’t deterred Mr. Obama from exploring ways to reform immigration policy by executive order.
He faulted Republicans for forcing the White House to take unilateral action.
“They have engaged in a coordinated political strategy to block any process, to block anything the president supports, even common sense things, even things that have traditionally earned bipartisan support,” he said. “So what the president has said is, ‘I’m going to leave the door open to working with Democrats and Republicans to make progress but I’m not going to wait for Republicans to try to find some common ground. I’m going to use the authority that vested in the presidency of the United States to take action on my own.’”
He insisted that Mr. Obama had the authority for the actions he took, including repeatedly delaying or changing provisions of the Obamacare law, which is expected to be a focus of the proposed lawsuit.
Mr. Earnest said the changes to Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, were measure that provided “flexibility” to state governments, businesses and families that improved the execution of the law.
“The fact of the matter is … Republicans are concerned about this not because they are particularly concerned about the law but because they voted against the [Obamacare] legislation,” Mr. Earnest said. “We have seen that they have been rooting for years for this legislation to fail and they have used every legislative tactic in the book to try to ensure its failure. They even took the president to the Supreme Court to try to get the law to fail. And at each turn they have been rebuffed.
“Because of the flexibility that has been demonstrated by this administration, a willingness to work with Democrats and Republicans at the state level as they implement this law, we see that this law has had enormous benefits for this country already and those benefits are only going to increase in the years ahead,” he said.