The U.S. Congress, paralyzed from the GOP victory in the legislative elections in 2010, fell Wednesday to a new level of tension and polarization. The Republican majority in the House of Representatives voted to report president Barack Obama to the US Justice department, for abusing his presidential authority in implementing health care reform, one of the biggest legislative successes.
The proposal to approve the application was adopted with 225 votes in favor and 201 Republican majority against the Democratic minority.
Demand, driven by speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, is another party – a skirmish over – the least productive Congress in history. Since Republicans took over the House, three and a half years ago, no draft law has been adopted, and legislative activity has stagnated. Democrats control the Senate.
“Demand is a joke,” says Thomas Mann, a specialist in Congress, a researcher at the think tank Brookings Institution and co-author of the essay “It is worse than it seems: how the American constitutional system collided with the new politics of extremism”. “It’s symbolic and inconsequential, like everything that Congress does these days. A divided government in a time of intense partisan polarization and asymmetric is the ideal formula to vehement opposition and inaction. “
Republicans defend the lawsuit as an unusual but, unlike impeachment, impeachment, possibly safe – with the argument that Obama violate the separation of powers and has expanded the powers of the presidency to unconstitutional ends.
For Democrats, take Obama to court is pure gesture, nonsense without any viability or serious legal basis. The lawsuit focuses on Obama’s decision to postpone the obligation for companies with more than 50 employees to offer health insurance to their employees. This is one of the key elements of health reform, the law adopted in 2010 to extend health coverage to millions of people without insurance.
The Republican Party believes that the unilateral postponement of this aspect of health law reflects a trend for Obama to rule on his own, without Congress. The president does not hide that, given the almost systematic blockade in Congress of their initiatives, try, as all his predecessors have done in similar circumstances, to govern unilaterally through presidential decrees and other actions.
” [ Republicans ] have announced that they will require for me to take enforcement actions to help people,” Obama, hours before the vote, said in a speech in Kansas City (Missouri). “So they are angry with me because I do my job.”
” It’s not about Democrats and Republicans, but we swore to uphold the Constitution and defend act decisively when it is in a difficult situation,” Boehner said in a speech to the House of Representatives. ” Do you think allowing each president decides what laws executed and what changes? Are we willing to allow anyone to shred what our founders built? “
The lawsuit, Mann says, “is a way for the speaker to redirect a portion of the pressure of his parliamentary group to launch an impeachment.” Only two presidents – Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 – were subjected to impeachment, reserved for serious offenses, and both were acquitted.
In the past the threat of impeachment has been a common weapon in the hands of the opposition. Obama is not the first victim. Democrats more angry by the falsehoods that led to the invasion of Iraq wielded the ability to process the Republican George W. Bush. To the extent that scared because the action at the polls have counterproductive effects, the then speaker, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, was forced to publicly dismiss that option.
But Boehner knows that an impeachment would be unpopular among most Americans and, worse, would only serve to mobilize Democratic voters apathetic about after six years of Obama in the White House and unlikely to go to the polls en masses, as they did in the 2008 presidential and 2012 – in the legislative elections of November.
The solution to the Republican leader, is the lawsuit. Allows to calm the bases identified radical – populist Tea Party movement, with the message that he reacts to Obama’s presidential alleged abuses. But does not reach the impeachment.
An impeachment would be a boon for Obama’s Democrats: confirm the worst prejudices about the republican sectarianism and would be the best advertisement for their voters in a legislative vote in which Democrats fear losing the Senate. Hence the White House and the Democratic Party have been the first to popularize the idea that demand may lead to impeachment.
In recent days, the electronic mailboxes of potential Democratic supporters have been flooded with emails requesting donations to the campaign in order to stop the impeachment. Only on Monday, Democrats raised a million dollars.
“We have no plan to prosecute the president. We have no future plans, “said Boehner. ” Look, this is all a scam devised by Democrats in the White House.”