TIME Congress

McCain: Iraq War Might Not Have Happened Had I Won In 2000

John McCain Discusses The Situation In Iraq At American Enterprise Institute
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) participates in a discussion on the unfolding violence in Iraq at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in Washington on June 18, 2014. T.J. Kirkpatrick—Getty Images

'You'll find this surprising'

Arizona Sen. John McCain, once one of the most ardent defenders of American involvement in Iraq, said Thursday that had he been President in 2003 the U.S. might never have invaded.

“You’ll find this surprising,” McCain said at an event hosted by CNN and National Journal Thursday in Washington, “but I think I would have been more reluctant to commit American troops.”

The 2008 Republican presidential nominee and one of the chief proponents of the Iraq surge argued that his background in the military and his experience in Washington would have led him to see through “flimsy” evidence, had he defeated former President George W. Bush in the 2000 Republican primaries.
“I think I would have challenged the evidence with more scrutiny,” McCain said. “I hope that I would have been able to see through the evidence that was presented at the time.
“The guy named Curveball that we were relying on turned out to be some guy in a German prison that was an alcoholic,” McCain continued. “On the evidence—I think I would have challenged the evidence with greater scrutiny.
But McCain added that he was not blaming the Republican President for his handling the run-up to the war, which polarized the nation and cost more than 4,400 American and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives. “I’m not blaming President George W. Bush. It’s not for me to critique my predecessors, especially those that I lost to,” he said.
Interviewed by CNN’s Jake Tapper and National Journal’s Ron Fournier, McCain said he relied on the credibility of former Secretary of State Colin Powell for his vote in favor of the war.
“In Iraq in 2003, the Secretary of State, one of the most respected men in America, went to the United Nations Security Council and alleged that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” McCain said. “If I was presented with that same evidence today, I would vote the same way. I respected and trusted the Secretary of State Colin Powell. It’s obvious now that Saddam Hussein, though he had used weapons of mass destruction, did not have the inventory that we seemed to have evidence, that looking through with some hindsight was very flimsy.”
TIME Drugs

The Rules About Pot Just Changed in Washington D.C.

Pot Marijuana Weed
Getty Images

Adults caught with up to one ounce of pot will be fined $25 in the nation's capital

Washington D.C.’s pot decriminalization policy went into effect Thursday, lowering the penalties for marijuana possession to just a $25 civil fine for adults caught with up to one ounce.

The law may still encounter some pushback from Congress, as the Republican-controlled House passed a bill Wednesday that includes an amendment to stop D.C. from using federal or local funds to implement the law. The bill was passed largely along party lines; only six Democrats supported the bill.

Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), who sponsored the D.C. provision, told the Washington Post that pot is “poison to a teenager’s brain” and that the new law would treat teenagers in a dramatically different way to young people right across the Maryland border, where violators younger than 21-years-old are required to appear in court.

The Administration “strongly opposes” the House provision, writing in a letter released Monday that it poses legal challenges to the Metropolitan police department’s enforcement and violates the principle of D.C. home rule.

Washington D.C. has an extraordinarily high rate of marijuana arrests, ranked seventh out of 945 counties examined in a 2013 American Civil Liberties Union report. There’s also a huge racial disparity in who gets penalized for smoking weed, according to the same report, which found that black people are eight times more likely than non-blacks to be arrested for marijuana possession.

Possession of any amount of marijuana in the District was formerly counted as a criminal offense punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. It remains a criminal offense to smoke pot in the nation’s capital.

TIME Law

FAA Investigates Congressman’s Drone Wedding Video

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in Capitol hill in 2013.
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in the Capitol in 2013. Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — The Federal Aviation Administration indicated Wednesday that it is investigating whether a video of a congressman’s wedding last month violated the agency’s ban on drone flights for commercial purposes.

The agency’s carefully worded statement doesn’t mention Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., by name, but said it was looking into “a report of an unmanned aircraft operation in Cold Spring, New York, on June 21 to determine if there was any violation of federal regulations or airspace restrictions.”

Maloney has acknowledged hiring a photographer to produce a video of his wedding using a camera mounted on a small drone. The wedding took place in Cold Spring on June 21. Maloney is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s aviation subcommittee, which oversees the FAA.

Top agency officials have testified extensively before Congress about their concern that commercial drones could collide with manned aircraft or injure people on the ground. Congress has been pressing the FAA to move faster on creating regulations that will allow commercial drones access to U.S. skies. The agency has been working on regulations for about a decade.

“On their wedding day, Sean and Randy were focused on a ceremony 22 years in the making, not their wedding photographer’s camera mounted on his remote control helicopter,” Stephanie Formas, spokeswoman for Maloney, said in a statement.

The FAA has approved a few limited commercial drone operations. But the agency has also been sending letters to commercial operators across the country — including other videographers and companies that hire videographers — to cease their drone flights or face fines.

One videographer, Raphael Pirker, challenged the $10,000 fine the FAA tried to level against him for flying a small drone in an allegedly reckless manner near the University of Virginia. An administrative law judge sided with Pirker, whose attorney argued the agency can’t ban commercial drone flights when it hasn’t formally adopted safety rules governing drone flights. The FAA has appealed the case to the five-member National Transportation Safety Board. A decision is expected this fall.

Formas, citing the judge’s ruling, said there was “no enforceable FAA rule” or regulation that applied to “a model aircraft like the helicopter used in the ceremony.”

The wedding photographer subcontracted Parker Gyokeres of Propellerheads Aerial Photography in Trenton, New Jersey, to shoot the video. Gyokeress posted outtakes of the wedding on his company’s website and created a YouTube video.

TIME Drugs

House Votes to Help Pot Businesses Use Banks

Rethinking Pot Border Town
Customers gather at a medical-marijuana store on July 9, 2014. Zachary Kaufman—AP

But the measure may stall in the Senate

The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed one measure designed to help legitimate marijuana businesses gain access to the financial system, and rejected another that would have blocked them from doing so. But the votes may not force a resolution to the cannabis industry’s long-running fight to bank its cash.

The House easily approved an amendment to an appropriations bill that would bar regulators from punishing banks who transact with legal marijuana businesses. The measure, which passed 231-192, is designed to ease the fears of financial institutions, who mostly eschew pot clients, even in states that have relaxed marijuana laws, because the drug remains illegal under federal law.

In the other vote, the House rejected an amendment sponsored by a conservative Republican that would have blocked the implementation of Treasury Department guidelines, issued earlier this year, that gave a yellow light for banks to accept legitimate cannabis clients.

Industry activists hailed the votes as a major triumph. “This is a huge step forward for the legal cannabis industry,” Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, said in a statement. “Access to basic banking services is one of the most critical challenges facing legal cannabis businesses and the state agencies tasked with regulating them.”

Pro-pot votes in the Republican-controlled House are another marker of just how mainstream marijuana is becoming. But they are not necessarily a sign that the banking issue will be resolved anytime soon.

A bill to open the banking industry to pot clients would still have to clear the U.S. Senate, which is no easy feat for far less controversial legislation. There is no guarantee the measure will come up for a vote in the midst of a contentious election season, with control of the chamber up for grabs. And some legislators from both parties oppose opening the financial system to marijuana money. After the Treasury guidelines were issued, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) co-authored a blistering letter arguing that the department had “severely undermined” its mission.

“Following the guidance may expose financial institutions to civil or criminal liability,” Feinstein and Grassley wrote. “Congress and the President may reconsider marijuana’s legality, but until federal law is changed, selling marijuana, laundering marijuana proceeds, and aiding and abetting those activities all remain illegal. Far from clarifying the obligations of financial institutions, FinCEN’s guidance appears to create uncertainty where none had existed beforehand.”

Multiple Democratic Senate aides did not immediately respond to questions about the measure’s chances of passage in the upper chamber. Without Congressional approval, banks are unlikely to take the risk of changing their policy.

TIME Congress

Senate GOP Blocks Bill on Contraception Coverage

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans have blocked a bill aimed at restoring free contraception for women who get their health insurance from companies that object on religious grounds.

The vote on Wednesday was 56-43 to move ahead on the measure, short of the 60 votes necessary to proceed.

Democrats sponsored the election-year bill to reverse last month’s Supreme Court ruling that closely held businesses with religious objections could deny coverage under President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Republicans called the bill a political stunt aimed at helping vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the midterm elections.

Democrats appealed to female voters, critical to their hopes of holding onto their Senate majority, in arguing for the measure.

TIME Congress

House Passes Highway Bill As Deadline Looms

WASHINGTON (AP) — With an August deadline looming, the House voted Tuesday to temporarily patch over a multibillion-dollar pothole in federal highway and transit programs while ducking the issue of how to put them on a sound financial footing for the long term.

The action cobbles together $10.8 billion by using pension tax changes, customs fees and money from a fund to repair leaking underground fuel storage tanks to keep the federal Highway Trust Fund, which pays for transportation programs nationwide, solvent through May 2015. The vote was 367 to 55. A similar bill is pending in the Senate.

Without congressional action, the Transportation Department says that by the first week in August the fund will no longer have enough money to cover promised aid to states, and the government will begin to stretch out payments. Congress has kept the highway trust fund teetering on the edge of bankruptcy since 2008 through a series of temporary fixes because lawmakers have been unable to find a politically acceptable long-term funding plan.

The most obvious solution would be to raise the federal 18. 4 cents a gallon gasoline and 24.4 cents a gallon diesel tax, which haven’t been increased in over 20 years. But lawmakers are reluctant to raise taxes in an election year — especially Republicans for whom a vote in favor of any tax increase could trigger a backlash from their party’s base.

As a result, Congress has had to look elsewhere for transportation money while not increasing the federal deficit. The bill by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., relies on tax changes that are forecast to generate revenue over 10 years, but provide only enough money to keep the highway and transit programs going for another 10 months.

The largest chunk of the money, $6.4 billion, results from allowing employers to defer payments to their employee pension plans. Funding pension plans normally results in a tax savings for companies, and deferring those payments means they will pay more in taxes and increase federal revenue. But several lawmakers suggested the revenue from the pension changes is illusory.

“Come on, really, it’s pretty phony stuff,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore. “Let’s get real about how we’re going to fund our transportation” programs.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, defended the bill while acknowledging its limits. “Listen, these are difficult decisions in difficult times in an election year,” he said. “The long-term problem is still there and needs to be addressed.”

President Barack Obama, touring a transportation research center in Virginia, said he supports the House and Senate bills to keep aid flowing to states, but wants more.

“All this does is set us up for the same crisis a few months from now. So Congress shouldn’t pat itself on the back for averting disaster for a few months,” he said. Earlier this year, Obama offered a $302 billion plan to increase transportation spending and keep programs going for another four years. The plan, which was paid for by closing business tax loopholes, was received coolly by Republicans.

Democrats and some Republicans complained that it won’t be any easier under the GOP bill to reach a compromise on sustainable, long-term means to pay for programs by pushing off a decision until next year when the presidential campaign is heating up. Republicans, however, may be in a better position to shape a transportation bill to their liking next year if they re-take control of the Senate in this fall’s midterm elections.

Republicans are divided over transportation policy. A significant minority of the party’s more conservative House members want to slash federal gas and diesel taxes, dramatically scale back transportation aid and leave it to states to come up with the money to pay for roads, bridges, buses and trains.

The conservative Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America, which are influential with Tea Party Republicans, urged lawmakers to vote against the Camp bill. But as a sop to conservatives, House GOP leaders allowed an amendment by Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., that says Congress should “increase the authority and responsibility of the states” to fund and manage their transportation systems.

But Democrats said greater federal spending is needed to repair and replace the nation’s aging infrastructure, meet the needs of a growing population and keep pace with other nations like China which are spending a greater share of their economies on transportation than the U.S.

States have been told to expect an average 28 percent reduction in aid if Congress doesn’t act. The fund is expected to reach a zero balance by the end of August. Some states already have begun to delay or cancel construction projects due to the uncertainty of federal money.

The House defeated along party lines a motion by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., that would reduce the money in the bill to about $8 billion — just enough to pay for highway and transit aid through Dec. 31 — in the hope that another quick deadline would force Congress to come to an agreement on a long-term funding plan this year.

TIME Congress

Compromise Disrupts the Daily Vitriol in Washington, D.C.

Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner (C) reacts after signing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act with (from left to right) Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Congressman George Miller, Republican Congressman John Kline, Republican Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, and Democratic Congressman Ruben Hinojosa in the Speaker's Conference Room in the US Capitol in Washington on July 11, 2014.
Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner (C) reacts after signing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act with (from left to right) Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Congressman George Miller, Republican Congressman John Kline, Republican Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, and Democratic Congressman Ruben Hinojosa in the Speaker's Conference Room in the US Capitol in Washington on July 11, 2014. Jim Lo Scalzo—EPA

The political war of words hasn't stopped, but Republicans and Democrats are proving they can still get stuff done together

The rhetoric in Washington Tuesday was as poisonous as ever, with President Barack Obama lashing out again at House Republicans and Speaker John Boehner returning the favor. “The American people have to demand that folks in Washington do their job, do something,” Obama said, in an attack. “Giving speeches about a long-term highway bill, it’s frankly just more rhetoric,” Boehner responded in kind.

But under the hood, things did not look quite so dire. With little fanfare, the tiny sounds of compromise on infrastructure funding and immigration policy echoed through the marbled halls of Washington. House Republican leadership decided to break with their conservative flank to support a ten-month highway funding bill that the White House endorsed. Then House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said Democrats would also support the measure, just a week after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi criticized it.

Meanwhile, House and Senate Republicans found themselves echoing the rhetoric of the White House as they push for a legal change that will allow for the quicker deportation of Central American children who cross the border illegally, a move that has infuriated liberals. “This would be done in a humane and responsible way,” said a Republican aide close to the House working group working on immigration, echoing the White House talking points on the proposal.

Despite the hesitant cooperation, both sides tried to use the potential for agreement as a way score political points. “Breaking news,” White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said, dryly after he was asked about the transportation deal. “Maybe the presidential rhetoric is having an effect.” Republicans, similarly, tried to cast the fleeting agreement as a victory. “The point is there are ways to get things done—they rarely included campaign speeches by the President,” said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

To be sure, many areas of disagreement remain, and the limited cooperation with 10 legislative days before Labor Day is more a function of clearing the docket of urgent business before the long midterm-election-year recess than a genuine breakthrough. The GOP remains divided over the $3.7 billion budget request from the White House to deal with the border fix, and there is no sign of a larger deal on immigration reform. The historic standoff over deficit spending levels remains unresolved. And in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid has rejected proposal by Republican Whip John Cornyn to change deportation process for Central American minors.

But the week’s work proves that even in a city riven by division and broken trust, work still gets done on occasion, even if neither party shows any interest in ending the daily onslaught of recriminations over the coming months. “Now that President Obama has endorsed the House highway bill, we hope he will urge Senate Democrats to pass some of the nearly 50 House-passed jobs bills still awaiting action,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Speaker of the House John Boehner. “The American people are still asking, where are the jobs? And it’s time for the president to fight the Senate gridlock from his own political party.”

At the White House, Earnest said the temporary bipartisanship wouldn’t change the president’s summer plans to continue on offense. “Republicans have put their political ambitions ahead of the interests of middle-class families so many times, but like I said, I’m willing to give credit where it’s due,” he said of the highway agreement. “But it’s not going to stop this administration from continuing to advocate for the kind of long-term highway reauthorization that’s in the best interests of the American economy.”

Additional reporting by Alex Rogers/Washington

TIME Congress

The Tricky Gimmick Congress Will Use to Fund Your Highways

Congress pays for a 10 month fix now by threatening greater deficits later.

On Monday night the White House endorsed the House Republicans’ plan to keep the Highway Trust Fund—which finances highways, roads and bridges—alive for the next 10 months, saving about 700,000 jobs. While the bill will bring the Transportation Department program back from the brink of a crisis, it uses an accounting trick known as “pension smoothing” to pay for it. Here’s a guide on why the short-term revenue raiser is no good for the long haul.

What is pension smoothing and why should I care about it?

Pension smoothing raises money for the government in the short term in exchange for increasing the debt over the long term. By reducing pension contribution requirements, pension smoothing temporarily increases companies’ taxable income to raise revenue for the government. But over the long-term, companies will be on the hook to contribute more to their pension funds, lowering tax revenue. Some conservatives, including fellows at the Heritage Foundation and Keith Hennessy, a senior White House economic advisor under President George W. Bush, have warned that pension smoothing increases the risk of a taxpayer funded bailout of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the government insurance company that protects pensioners from risk in their private plans.

Does anyone like it?

Congress in the past has turned to the tactic in dire situations (see next question) because it is pro-employer and a revenue raiser in the short-term. Since the Congressional Budget Office scores bills in 10-year windows, supporters of the House and Senate bills to save the Highway Trust Fund can avoid questions about raising deficits in the long-term.

It’s no one’s ideal revenue raiser. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the Finance Committee, told TIME last week he’s “not real happy about pension smoothing,” but still “dedicated” to passing this year’s fix. On Tuesday, reporters asked House Speaker Boehner at a press conference why he would support pension smoothing, which Republicans decried earlier this year as a gimmick when Democrats wanted to use it to fund an emergency unemployment insurance extension.

“These are difficult decisions in difficult times in an election year,” said Boehner. “It is a solid piece of legislation that will solve the problem in the short-term. The long-term problem is still there and needs to be addressed.”

Several outside think tanks and media organizations have announced their opposition to pension smoothing, including the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the editorial board of the Washington Post, the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Has pension smoothing been used before?

In 2012, Congress first turned to the revenue-raising gimmick to fill another transportation funding shortfall. Last year, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) included it as part of a failed proposal to repeal an Obamacare provision and end the government shutdown. Earlier this year, Senate Democrats and a handful of Republicans tried to use it to extend unemployment insurance. Now it will be used to save the Highway Trust Fund from insolvency.

What are the alternatives?

A month ago, Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) introduced a bill to raise the federal gas tax (currently around 18 cents a gallon), which hasn’t been changed since 1993 and is the main source of financing the Highway Trust Fund. The Corker-Murphy bill would address the cash-strapped program by increasing the tax by 6 cents in each of the next two years and then index the rate to inflation. Besides the Corker-Murphy bill, Congress could tax drivers on how many miles they drive and communities could set up more tollbooths. Other potential long-term solutions are in the works but unlikely to pass this year.

TIME Immigration

Governors Divided on How to Handle Border Crisis

Scott Walker
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks during a meeting on jobs and education at the National Governors Association convention, July 12, 2014, in Nashville. Mark Humphrey—AP

As Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell briefed governors on the situation at the National Governors Association meeting Sunday morning

The nation’s governors appeared united that Washington needs to act to deal with the surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border illegally at a gathering of state chief executives over the weekend, but showed little consensus over what Washington should actually do to mitigate the situation.

The border crisis was front-and-center at the National Governors Association (NGA) meeting in Nashville, where Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell briefed governors on the situation Sunday morning, especially for those governors from states that have been asked to house the children in temporary shelters.

Throughout the weekend the governors expressed frustration over a lack of communication from Washington, worried about both the humanitarian situation and the potential costs to their states.

“It almost brings me to tears thinking about these children,” said Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker. “You think of the trauma these kids are going through to get here, and you think of the trauma before that. I put them on my own personal prayer list.”

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, said Friday, “I can only imagine, as a father of four, the heartbreak that those parents must have felt in sending their children across a desert where they can be muled and trafficked or used or killed or tortured.”

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican, raised public-health and security concerns, asking about the risk to American citizens, saying there have been cases of chicken pox, scabies and lice at Fort Sill, the army post where over 1,100 unaccompanied minors are being housed in her state.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican, praised Burwell after the closed-press meeting. “We don’t know what the cost to the states are going to be,” he said. “The bottom line for me was for there to be an open line of communication with the secretary on that issue. And she’s assured me and all the governors that she will ensure that we’re very well aware of what is going on with respect to states.”

Multiple governors described the meeting as “frank,” with Burwell challenged on the Administration’s handling of the issue. Sandoval said it was too early to say whether governors are buying in to the Administration’s proposed response.

But the evidence on display elsewhere at the NGA meeting suggested the governors are as deeply divided over the solution as policymakers in the nation’s capital. “I think Congress needs to act, and I think the President needs to go down there and see it for himself like I did,” Fallon said.

“Go down there,” echoed Utah Governor Gary Herbert, also a Republican. “Grab both sides of the issue and say we will solve this. We need to me more leadership out of the White House and we need to see more collaboration in Congress.”

The number of unaccompanied child migrants attempting to cross the border has surged in recent months, mainly from Central America. U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the number detained has risen by 92% from July last year. Last week, President Barack Obama requested $3.7 billion to ease the humanitarian crisis and increase border security, as the federal government is looking to move thousands of unaccompanied minors to temporary detention facilities in states away from the border.

On Sunday, Texas Governor Rick Perry, who was not at the governors’ conference, said he does not support the President’s request. “As I look at that piece of legislation, it is a very large amount of money, and as you analyze it, very little of it is for border security,” the Republican said on Fox News Sunday.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who famously clashed with Obama at the Phoenix airport over immigration policy in 2012, said the children must be sent back. “They should be sent home,” she said. “They are illegal. We have borders for a reason. And I’ll say it again, you know, a country without borders is like a house without walls — it collapses. We are a nation of laws. We believe in the rule of law.”

“People — our citizens already feel burdened by all kinds of challenges,” said Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat. “They don’t want to see another burden coming into their state. So however we deal with the humanitarian aspects of this, we’ve got to do it in the most cost-effective way possible.”

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy called on the federal government to do more to solve the instability in Central America that is causing the influx of migrant children. But the Democrat emphasized the importance of increasing border security, saying that Washington must act “in the most human way possible, but respecting our laws.”

“There’s a paucity of suggestions on how to deal with this from Republicans, other than to point fingers,” he added.

O’Malley, who is preparing to run for President in 2016, broke publicly with Obama on Saturday, saying the children should be allowed to stay.

“It is contrary to everything we stand for to try to summarily send children back to death,” the Democratic lawmaker told reporters. He also criticized the “kennels” in which those who have been detained are being kept and called for the children to be placed in “the least restrictive” locations, including foster homes or with family members in the U.S.

Walker, who is similarly mulling a presidential bid on the GOP side, said the federal government needs to be careful where it releases the children. “If they go with people without legal status, our concern is that these children will just suddenly be gone and we’re not going to see them and that’ll just encourage more kids to come,” he said.

TIME Congress

Boehner: House Will Sue President Over Obamacare Employer Mandate

Speaker of the House John Boehner speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 10, 2014. Joshua Roberts—Reuters

House Speaker John Boehner says says the suit is based on the fact that Obama revised the Affordable Care Act mandate without approval from Congress

House Speaker John Boehner announced Thursday that the chamber will sue President Barack Obama for delaying the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate last year.

The decision gave companies with at least 50 full-time employees an extra year to provide health insurance or face a fine. Earlier this year, the Administration delayed the mandate until 2016 for companies employing between 50 and 99 workers.

“Today we’re releasing a draft resolution that will authorize the House to file suit over the way President Obama unilaterally changed the employer mandate,” wrote Boehner in a public statement. “In 2013, the president changed the health care law without a vote of Congress, effectively creating his own law by literally waiving the employer mandate and the penalties for failing to comply with it. That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work. No president should have the power to make laws on his or her own.”

Democrats immediately ridiculed the measure as a political stunt.

“Instead of working to create jobs, instead of working to strengthen the middle class or addressing any of the urgent issues facing our nation, Republicans are wasting taxpayer dollars on another toxic partisan stunt,” wrote Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, in a public statement. “This lawsuit is just another distraction from House Republicans desperate to distract the American people from their own spectacular obstruction and dysfunction.”

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