Republicans were ready to approve legislation today authorising an election-year lawsuit against President Barack Obama, accusing him of exceeding his powers in enforcing his signature health care law.
The lawsuit was expected to pass through the House of Representatives on strictly party lines. Democrats dismiss it as a costly political charade aimed at stirring up Republican voters ahead of the November congressional elections.
Democrats also say it's also an effort by top Republicans to mollify conservatives who want Obama to be impeached something that House Speaker John Boehner said yesterday he has no plans to do.
Speculation about impeachment has been popular among conservative activists and some lawmakers, despite Boehner's dismissal.
Democrats have capitalized on the impeachment chatter, sending fund-raising pleas to their own supporters warning that Republicans are out to impeach Obama and ruin his presidency. Using that pitch, Democrats raised USD 1 million on Monday, according to the head of the House Democratic campaign organisation, Rep. Steve Israel.
Republicans are expected to keep their House majority after November's elections and hope to gain control of the Senate. They say the House's planned legal action is warranted because Obama has violated his constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws.
They say that instead, Obama has enforced laws as he wants to, dangerously shifting power to the presidency from Congress.
Obama said in Kansas City the vote to file a lawsuit is taking away from time the lawmakers could be spending on issues important to the American people.
He described the measure as a "political stunt" and said he took actions on his own because Congress isn't doing anything to help him.
"What is it about this president that will have our colleagues on the other side of the aisle resort to anything to delegitimize him?" asked Rep Donald Payne, a Democrat. But Republican Rep Doug Lambourn said, "The people's representatives will not turn a blind eye to the lawlessness of this president. We will do whatever it takes to hold him and future occupants of the Oval Office accountable."
The lawsuit will focus on how Obama has carried out his health care overhaul, a 2010 law that is his most prized domestic achievement and that every Republican lawmaker opposed.