Cole: Consistent Presidential Overreach, But Impeachment Not Appropriate

Jul 31, 2014

President Obama and FEMA head Craig Fugate meet with Moore mayor Glenn Lewis, Gov. Mary Fallin, and U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla. 4) after the May 20, 2013 tornado.
Credit Pete Souza / The White House

All five members of Oklahoma's House delegation voted Wednesday to authorize a lawsuit against President Obama that would accuse him of violating the Constitution by exceeding his executive powers.

The suit will contend that Obama has exceeded his constitutional powers in the way he has enforced the 2010 health care law. The vote was 225 to 201.

Speaking during a House Rules Committee hearing Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla. 4) said the president has shown a consistent pattern of unilaterally changing laws on his own - from the Affordable Care Act to environmental issues.

"We're driven to this point because we really do think the overreach has been repeated and egregious," Cole says. "But I think it's a question is worth asking. I think it's asked in good faith, and I don't think it's done in any way other than to get clarification and hopefully resolution."

Congressional Democrats have labeled it a political charade and a campaign-year stunt designed to draw conservative voters to the polls in congressional elections. They also say it may be a prelude to an effort to impeach President Obama.

"We've got the ultimate power of impeachment, but none of us are suggesting it's appropriate in this case," Cole says. "I really don't think it is."

The lawsuit would focus on how Obama has carried out his health care overhaul.

“This lawsuit asks the court to resolve one critical constitutional issue: can the Executive Branch change the text of a law, or is that authority reserved for the Legislative Branch? This is not a political question,” U.S. Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla. 5) said in a statement. “It is a constitutional question. Congress makes the laws; the Executive Branch executes them. The Founders included this in our governing documents to ensure a distinct separation of powers.”

In particular, Republicans have objected that Obama has twice delayed the law's so-called employer mandate, which he did under pressure from business groups.

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