The Republican-led House approved a resolution on Wednesday authorizing Speaker John Boehner to sue President Barack Obama over claims he exceeded his executive authority.
The vote was 225-201.
House authorization now allows GOP-leaders to have the unusual suit filed in federal court. The time frame for that is not clear.
Not a single House Democrat voted for it, and five Republicans opposed it. They were: GOP members Paul Broun of Maryland, Scott Garrett of New Jersey, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Steve Stockman of Texas, and Walter Jones of North Carolina.
The vote takes partisan rancor in Washington to a new level less than four months before congressional midterms. The focus on Obamacare also magnifies politics around the sweeping health law Republicans didn’t support and have tried to derail since it’s approval in 2010.
Dems claim impeachment coming
Democrats quickly seized to turn the debate on the lawsuit, saying prior to the vote that the real desire of the GOP is to ultimately impeach Obama.
Boehner, who has repeatedly said he disagrees with those pushing impeachment, attempted to shut down that discussion this week.
Insisting that Republicans have “no plans” and “no future plans” to impeach Obama, Boehner denounced the talk about impeachment as “a scam started by Democrats at the White House.”
But Democrats seized on polls showing a majority of Americans oppose any effort to remove the President from office, and aren’t letting go of the issue.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said the lawsuit was “on a path to nowhere or maybe, among some in your ranks a path to impeachment.”
Apparently not satisfied with Boehner’s assurance, Pelosi directed this at him: “If you don’t want to hear people use the word impeachment as your people have done then tell them impeachment is off the table.”
Obama tweaks GOP on impeachment
Obama, himself, tweaked Republicans on Wednesday. In Kansas City, Missouri, he noted the House was about to leave Washington for the month of August, but “the main vote that they have scheduled for today is whether or not they decide to sue me for doing my job.”
During debate, Democrats lined up on their side of the chamber and one after the other requested that GOP leaders allow votes on measures to raise the minimum wage, extend jobless benefits, and ensure pay equity.
They knew Republicans wouldn’t hold off on the lawsuit to take any of those issues up, but the the theater was designed to underscore their argument that the majority party was focused on the lawsuit rather than legislating.
The campaign arm for House Democrats arm has raised $7.6 million from appeals to supporters citing the suit and tied it to the threat of impeachment.
Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, defended the aggressive public push and pledged Democrats would continue it through the midterm election in November.
“You bet we’re going to run on a Congress that is just obsessed with lawsuits, suing the President, talking about impeaching him, instead of solutions for the middle class,” Israel told CNN.
A CNN/ORC International poll released last week showed those Americans surveyed, by a 57%-41% margin, opposed the lawsuit. Nearly two-thirds said Obama should not be impeached.