The Obama administration this week hopes to block yet another lawsuit that could disrupt the Affordable Care Act, arguing that the plaintiffs lack standing to sue.
Administration lawyers will try Thursday to persuade U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer in Washington, a George W. Bush nominee, to toss a lawsuit filed by House Republicans in November. The suit challenges President Barack Obama's decision, without congressional approval, to delay penalties on certain employers who have not provided coverage for their workers.
In what could pose a bigger threat to the law, the plaintiffs also allege the administration is illegally using U.S. Treasury money meant for other purposes to finance cost-sharing subsidies for low-income exchange plan members. Those subsidies are projected to total about $175 billion over 10 years. Congress never appropriated the money.
The administration says the federal courts do not have jurisdiction to “referee” institutional disputes between federal government branches. But the plaintiffs claim the administration usurped fundamental House responsibilities. “The House cannot use its power of the purse to check the Executive if the Executive is free to dole out public funds without any congressional appropriation,” House Republicans argue.
Kermit Roosevelt, a University of Pennsylvania constitutional law expert, said the plaintiffs will have difficulty proving they have standing. The Supreme Court has said members of Congress “don't have the authority to challenge a law because they don't like it ... unless it's harming them in some concrete, special way,” he said.