Boehner: House Has No Plans to Defund Unconstitutional Acts by Obama

Brittany M. Hughes | July 17, 2014 | 3:37pm EDT
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House Speaker John Boehner applauds during President Barack Obama's second inaugural address on Jan. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

( - House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) indicated today that if President Barack Obama takes actions that exceed his constitutional authority, the House of Representatives has no plans to use its own constitutional authority to withhold funding from those actions.

At his weekly press briefing, asked Boehner: “You’ve said you disagree with calls to impeach the president over abuse of power via executive actions. But under the Constitution the House actually has the power of the purse. So, if the President takes actions that exceed his Constitutional authority, will you withhold funding for those actions in the next must-pass appropriations bill?

“There’s a lot of ways to deal with this issue,” Boehner responded. “But we’ve got a Republican House and we’ve got a Democratic Senate. And there are a lot of things we’ve passed here that the Senate clearly has not passed.

“Now, when it comes to that issue, some of these actions that you could defund, there clearly isn’t, I wouldn’t guess, an appetite in the United States Senate to withhold those funds,” Boehner continued. “That’s why we’ve decided that the more direct approach of suing the president is the right path to go down here.

“Listen, I’m for upholding the Constitution,” said Boehner, “and I’m for protecting the interest of the House vis-à-vis the power grab that’s going on by the White House. And while he has the authority to issue executive orders, he does not have the authority to unilaterally change laws in our country, which he has done.”

Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7 of the U.S. Constitution says: "No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time."

Federal spending laws regularly include language prohibiting the Executive Branch from using funds for certain purposes.

Appropriations bills must be passed by both the House and Senate and be signed by the president—or overcome his veto—before they become law. This means that the House has the constitutional authority to pass a bill that withholds funding for executive actions, including those they believe exceed the president’s constitutional authority.

The Senate can refuse to pass, or the president can refuse to sign, a bill passed by the House that prohibits funding for Executive actions the House deems unconstitutional or outside the scope of the Executive’s legal authority, but unless the House relents and agrees to fund that activity, the Executive cannot engage in it.

At the end of the last fiscal year, the Republican-controlled House initially passed a continuing resolution to fund the government that denied funding for implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Senate refused to pass a CR with that language, and President Obama refused to accept one. After 16 days, the House backed down and passed a CR that permitted implementation of Obamacare.

Boehner announced this June that the House now plans to sue President Obama for taking unilateral actions that exceed his legal authority, saying at the time that abuse of power affords Obama “king-like authority at the expense of the American people and their elected legislators."

"On matters ranging from health care and energy to foreign policy and education, President Obama has repeatedly run an end-around,” Boehner said, adding the President has a habit of "ignoring some statutes completely, selectively enforcing others and at times, creating laws of his own."

When he was asked earlier this month if he agrees with calls by some Republicans to impeach President Obama for executive overreach, Boehner simply answered, “I disagree.”

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