The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to sue President Barack Obama for overstepping the bounds of his office. The vote was 225-201, giving authorization to Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to proceed with the lawsuit. The suit was centered around the implementation of Obamacare, the president's signature health care legislation that Republicans vehemently opposed and have tried to repeal more than 40 times.
No House Democrat supported the resolution, and five Republicans also voted to oppose it: Reps Paul Broun of Maryland, New Jersey's Scott Garrett, Kentucky's Thomas Massie, Steve Stockman of Texas, and Walter Jones of North Carolina.
The vote highlights the extraordinary level of partisanship and gridlock in Washington now.
Polls show that Congress is held in historically low esteem -- although Obama's approval ratings are also low -- and Obama and Democratic leaders may feel they can run against the House vote, highlighting it as an example of GOP obstructionism and extremism, and as a kind of silliness at a time when the nation faces complex economic and foreign policy challenges.
The lawsuit charges that Obama abused his power in making changes to the scheduled implementation of certain parts of the Affordable Care Act.
“Are you willing to let any president choose what laws to execute and what laws to change? Are you willing to let anyone tear apart what our founders have built,” Boehner said on the House floor, reported the New York Times.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the lawsuit was "on a path to nowhere or maybe among some in your ranks, a path to impeachment,” according to CNN.
The White House was quick to respond to the vote with an email sent out on Wednesday, criticizing the move.
“The House of Representatives just took a vote -- and it wasn't to raise the minimum wage, put in place equal pay, create jobs, or reform our broken immigration system,” the White House said. “Instead, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives just voted to sue the President for using his executive authority. This lawsuit will waste valuable time and potentially millions of taxpayer dollars.”
President Obama made light of the suit on Wednesday afternoon before the vote. Speaking in Kansas City, he mocked Republicans for spending time on the suit rather than working on the issues that Americans care about. Boehner has blocked votes on immigration reform, raising the minimum wage and extending unemployment insurance.
"Stop being mad all the time," Obama said. "Just stop hatin' all the time."
"They're mad at me because I'm doing my job," he said.
The lawsuit now moves to a federal court. The House must show that it has standing -- that is, that the president's actions caused it harm -- before the suit can proceed. And it would likely take years to wend through the federal court system, so Obama may be out of office before there is any resolution.