A substantantial battle has been won in the separation of powers challenge against Obama and his Affordable Care Act.
This Thursday, US District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled in favor of House Republicans that had filed a suit against President Obama and his signature healthcare overhaul, claiming that the White House’s new habit of spending money to reimburse insurers without first obtaining an appropriation from Congress is unconstitutional.
The ruling represents a long-sought victory for Republicans in the ongoing battle over Obama’s failed healthcare system. Collyer’s ruling stands a good chance of being overturned, but the 38-page opinion she wrote highlights the repeated complaint that the president has ignored constitutional limits and has overstepped his authority.
“No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law,” reads the Constitution.
And yet the Obama Administration has continued to reimburse insurers for providing inexpensive health insurance to low-income families. The amount paid to these companies has reached into the billions.
“Paying out Sec. 1402 reimbursements without an appropriation thus violates the Constitution,” writes Judge Collyer. “Congress authorized reduced cost sharing but did not appropriate monies for it, in the FY 2014 budget or since. Congress is the only source for such an appropriation, and no public money can be spent without one.”
Administration lawyers argue that members of the House have no legal standing to sue the president and that the aforementioned reimbursements were authorized by law. In response, House Republicans argue that Congress never appropriated the money and had in fact denied requests for it.
The Obama Administration does not have the authority to spend money on “cost sharing reduction payments” to health insurers without a prior appropriation from Congress, stated Collyer, ordering that a stop be put to future reimbursements. The administration is expected to appeal the case immediately.
“This is an historic win for the Constitution and the American people,” announced Speaker Paul Ryan. “The court ruled that the administration overreached by spending taxpayer money without approval from the people’s representatives.”
Texas Representative Kevin Brady, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, considers Collyer’s ruling to be a “critical step in protecting Congress’s power of the purse from an administration that has repeatedly ignored a fundamental principle of our Republic: the separation of powers.”
The lawsuit House v. Burwell originated in 2014 when former Speaker John Boehner claimed the executive branch did not have the authority to go behind Congress’s back to appropriate taxpayer money.