Vote for lawsuit spurs another partisan split

GOP claim against Obama has Democrats shaking heads

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President Barack Obama talks about the economy to a crowd of supporters at Denver's Cheesman Park on July 9.
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Colorado congressional Republicans insist that last week's vote to sue President Obama was a necessary response to “overreach” on the part of his administration.

But their Democratic counterparts slammed Republicans for taking time just before leaving Washington for the summer recess to hold a purely partisan vote to sue the president rather than address issues that actually matter to Americans.

“What they're doing certainly doesn't do anything to help the middle class of America,” said Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter.

The Republican-led House voted 225-201 to approve a resolution to authorize House Speaker John Boehner to sue Obama on claims that the president has abused his power and has ignored the Constitution.

No Democrats voted for the lawsuit and five Republicans also voted no.

Republicans claim that Obama has overreached on a number of areas where he has taken executive action.

But the lawsuit focuses specifically on the president's decision to delay key provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Republicans are unhappy that the president did not consult with Congress prior to taking action to delay the requirement that businesses provide health coverage to their employees.

Democrats find it funny that the lawsuit focuses on a provision delay of Obamacare — a health care law that Republicans didn't want to see implemented to begin with.

Republican Rep. Cory Gardner said he voted for the lawsuit because “we have an obligation to uphold the Constitution and the Constitution requires a separation of powers.”

“The president has stepped across this line and has engaged in unilateral lawmaking,” Gardner said. “He's weakened the legislative branch and strengthened the executive branch at the expense of the legislative branch.”

Republican Rep. Mike Coffman said that if Democrats valued the preservation of constitutional separation of powers, they should have joined Republicans in voting for the lawsuit.

“It absolutely should have been bipartisan because I think that anybody serving the Congress ought to be concerned about executive overreach, whether it's a Republican in the White House or a Democrat in the White House,” Coffman said. “I think that we are co-equal branches of government and anybody serving in the Congress ought to be interested in preserving the power of the institution.”

But the public doesn't seem to agree. Although Obama's approval ratings continue to be anemic, results from a recent CNN/ORC International poll show that respondents oppose the lawsuit by a 57-41 percent ratio.

Coffman said he doesn't concern himself with the possibility that voters might respond adversely to Republican efforts to sue the president.

“I only focus on what I'm doing,” he said. “I don't focus on the Republican Party. I don't focus on Washington, D.C. I focus on what the voters in the district focus on.”

But Perlmutter said if that's the case, then why aren't Republicans focusing on passing legislation that matters to the public?

“That's what they're spending their time on,” Perlmutter said of the lawsuit. “Instead of getting things done for Americans across the country, they're suing the president and they can't get done immigration reform, infrastructure, education, retirement security ... stuff that's important that doesn't get done.”