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US House approves lawsuit against Obama

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives [official website] passed a resolution on Wednesday authorizing Speaker of the House John Boehner [official website] to move ahead with a lawsuit which would challenge President Barack Obama's [official website] 2013 decision to waive the federal healthcare law's employer mandate without Congress's consent. The measure was adopted on a 225-201 vote [WSJ report], with five Republicans voting against pursuit of the lawsuit. No Democrats backed the initiative. Before the vote, House Speaker Boehner (R., Ohio) urged [press release] members to approve the action against the president, stating, "This isn't about Republicans and Democrats. It is about defending the Constitution that we swore an oath to uphold, and acting decisively when it may be compromised." Representative Jackie Speier (D., Cali.) [official website] spoke against the resolution [C-SPAN video clip], saying: "it's absurd to think that the House of Representatives as an institution has been harmed by President Obama attempting in good faith to implement the Affordable Care Act." Also before the vote, President Obama addressed a crowd of supporters [AP report] in Kansas City, Missouri, calling the lawsuit a political stunt.

Comprehensive health care reform [JURIST backgrounder] was passed by Congress in March 2010 after over a year of debate, and legal challenges surrounding the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [text, PDF] have reinvigorated legal debate in 2014. Earlier this month two US federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings [JURIST report] within hours of one another on the issue of whether subsidies may be awarded by the federal government in states that elect not to set up their own health insurance exchange. The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [JURIST report] last month in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] that closely held corporations can deny contraceptive coverage to their employees for religious reasons. Two weeks after the Hobby Lobby decision, US Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced a bill [JURIST report] to restore full contraception coverage for employees of closely held corporations.

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