House GOP Sues Administration Over Health Care Law

(WASHINGTON) — House Republicans have sued the Obama administration over steps President Barack Obama took to put his health law into place.

The lawmakers say the president overstepped his legal authority.

The lawsuit was filed Friday against the departments of Health and Human Services and the Treasury.

Republicans voted earlier this year to sue Obama over his actions to unilaterally waive provisions of the law.

Democrats have said any suit would be a political sideshow and waste of money.

The suit comes hours after Obama said he was acting on his own on immigration — further infuriating Republicans.

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: Interstellar, SEAL Who Shot bin Laden, and Gay Marriage Bans

Here are four of the biggest stories for the first week of November

This week, a former Navy SEAL admitted he fired the shot that killed Osama Bin Laden in May 2011. Robert James O’Neill, who now works as a motivational speaker, hadn’t come forward because of privacy and safety concerns.

Republicans took control of the Senate for the first time in almost a decade.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld laws against gay marriage in four states — Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.

And Interstellar opened two days early in limited release at theaters around the country, earning a whopping $1.35 million.

TIME 2014 Election

Republican Wave Floods States

Republicans hold a record number of seats in state legislature as a result of 2014 election

To say it was a good night for Republicans on the state level would be an understatement. Republicans now control 23 state governments outright and are on track to hold more state seats than they have since the late 1920s, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

After Tuesday, the GOP has the upper hand in 69 of the 99 country’s legislative chambers. In Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and West Virginia at least one chamber flipped from Democratic to Republican majorities. Results have yet to come down in Colorado, where Gov. John Hickenlooper was barely able to stave off a Republican challenge to his reelection. In many states Republicans are not simply the majority, they’ve secured a veto-proof supermajority, including in Florida and Missouri.

“Voters overwhelmingly voted for a new, open, innovative future for their families by electing state level Republicans in record numbers across the nation, including in traditionally blue states,” said Matt Walter, the president of the Republican State Leadership Committee in a statement. Walters said Republicans were successful largely thanks to their recruitment of a diverse set of candidates, including the youngest lawmaker in the U.S.

The payoffs for the GOP victories the state-level could be substantial. In states where the Republicans have single-party control they have shown willingness to advance aggressive party agendas: think North Carolina during the 2013 session. Come 2020, when state lawmakers will again be tasked with redrawing electoral maps, party control will be crucial.

Democrats haven’t lost hope.“Republicans had a great night,” director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) Michael Sargeant says. “But our operations were able to make sure we limited the damage in some places. ”

Democrats raised a reported $17 million and made about 2 million voter contacts this cycle. Sargeant says that work resulted in Democrats holding on to majorities in key states including the Maine House, the Iowa Senate, and the Kentucky House, which he says will ensure Republican agendas don’t sail through in those states.

“Those victories along with some others were critical to make sure they’re still balances,” Sargeant says.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 6

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. How do you frighten political strongmen? Teach journalism.

By Thomas Fiedler in the Conversation

2. Far from policing free will, taxes on sugary drinks make sense in the context of subsidies for corn syrup and the Medicaid and Medicare expense of 29 million Americans with diabetes.

By Kenneth Davis and Ronald Tamler in the Huffington Post

3. Palm oil production has a devastating impact on the environment, but smart science and better farming could reduce the harm.

By Michael Kodas in Ensia

4. We shouldn’t let Ebola panic squelch civil liberties.

By Erwin Chemerinsky in the Orange County Register

5. What we learn from video games: Giving military robots controls like “Call of Duty” could save lives on the (real) battlefield.

By Patrick Tucker in Defense One

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME politics

The GOP’s Other Glittering Prize

Can Republicans agree on a leader to take back the White House?

It’s going to be hard for Republicans to restrain their enthusiasm after their breathtaking victories on Nov. 4 in the Senate, the House and state capitols across the country. But they should. If we’ve learned anything about American politics over the past several years, it is that the electorate is far friendlier to Democrats in presidential years than it is in midterms, which is why the GOP triumph in 2010 was quickly followed by deep disappointment in 2012. At the risk of taking away the punch bowl too soon, GOP victories in states like Colorado and North Carolina were narrower than they should have been, considering that the electorates in those states will be younger and less white in two years, which will make them less hospitable terrain. Ed Gillespie’s near victory in Virginia was a welcome surprise. Yet Virginia is a state that Republicans ought to have in the bag in presidential years, and they don’t.

To win the White House, republicans will need a presidential candidate who understands how the country has changed since the Bush era and who offers a welcome contrast to the aging Clinton dynasty. But who will it be?

If Scott Walker had failed in his bid for re-election as governor of Wisconsin, he’d have instantly become a historical footnote. Instead, conservatives cheered as he won his third statewide election in four years. The case for Walker is that he’s demonstrated that he can fight and win against entrenched liberal interest groups and that his unpretentious, everyman style will play well in the all-important upper Midwest. The case against him is that in a dangerous world, the former county executive doesn’t have the experience or the know-how to be Commander in Chief.

Good news for Walker is, alas, bad news for Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor once considered the most formidable 2016 GOP contender. The Christie brand has lost much of its luster since the trumped-up Bridgegate imbroglio, though the governor is still a great talent. Christie’s pitch is not all that different from Walker’s: Both men have tangled with powerful public-worker unions. Both are unapologetic conservatives who’ve won in blue states. The difference is that Christie is seen–unfairly–as closer to President Obama than any Republican should be, and that perception will be difficult to overcome.

Something similar is true of Jeb Bush, the would-be white knight of the GOP establishment. Had the midterms been a disaster for the GOP, the case for Jeb would have been much stronger: once again, Republicans would need to turn to the Bush family to unite a party in disarray. The GOP’s strong showing instead suggests that a new generation is ready to take the helm.

One candidate who definitely got a boost from the midterms is Rand Paul, the junior Senator from Kentucky, who played a crucial role in sparing Republican leader Mitch McConnell from an ignominious defeat. Though McConnell opposed Paul in the 2010 GOP Senate primary, they’ve developed a strong working relationship as Paul has lent his Establishment colleague some of the young libertarian firebrands who fueled his come-from-behind victory. McConnell ran one of the most social-media-savvy campaigns in the country, a preview of what’s to come from a Paul presidential campaign. Rand Paul often takes positions–on mass surveillance, on drone strikes, on the war on drugs, on the size of government–at odds with those of mainstream Republicans. Yet he’s also developed an ability to soften some of his more hard-edged stances for public consumption. Moreover, GOP successes in gubernatorial races in deep-blue states like Massachusetts and Maryland lend credence to his argument that the GOP needs to welcome socially liberal voters.

And finally we have Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, junior Senators from Texas and Florida, respectively. Though Cruz and Rubio both came to office as Tea Party stalwarts, they’ve developed very different profiles. Cruz presents himself as the uncompromising defender of small-government conservatism who is willing to risk a federal shutdown or default in defense of his ironclad principles. Rubio, in contrast, is emerging as the candidate of middle-class aspiration, with a focus on reforming failing government institutions to tackle wage stagnation and the barriers to upward mobility.

Watch these two young Senators to see which path the GOP will take.n

Salam is the executive editor of National Review

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME 2014 Election

Republicans Win the Senate in Midterm Elections

Party retakes upper chamber amid disapproval of Obama

Republicans won the Senate for the first time in almost a decade Tuesday night, giving the party control over both chambers of Congress, and setting the stage for even more political confrontation with President Barack Obama during his final two years in office.

The GOP needed to pick up at least six seats to recapture the majority and as of late Tuesday night it had netted seven, with the possibility of winning one more when the Louisiana Senate race goes to a runoff next month. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell prevailed in one of the hardest-fought reelection fights of his career, and will almost certainly be selected by his colleagues as Majority Leader.

MORE: See all the election results

“The truth is tonight we begin another [fight], one that is far more important than mine, and that is to turn this country around,” McConnell told cheering supporters in Louisville after dispatching Alison Lundergam Grimes, Kentucky’s Secretary of State. Looking ahead to dealing with Obama as a lame duck, McConnell, who famously described the GOP’s top political priority as making him a one-term president, opened the door just a crack to compromise.

“We do have an obligation to work together on issues where we can agree,” he said. “Just because we have a two-party system doesn’t mean we have to be in perpetual conflict.”

Current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who will now have to yield the top spot to McConnell in December, congratulated his colleague—and often nemesis.

“The message from voters is clear: they want us to work together,” Reid said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Senator McConnell to get things done for the middle class.”

MORE: The challenge for the new Republican majority

Republicans won competitive Senate races in Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas and Colorado, and held off a wealthy independent candidate who almost brought down longtime Republican Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas. The GOP prevailed in a multi-candidate Senate race in South Dakota where Democrats had hoped an independent candidate would split the vote, and picked up a Montana Senate seat vacated by a retiring Democrat as expected.

In New Hampshire, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen held off Republican Scott Brown, a former Massachusetts senator who moved to the Granite State to challenge Shaheen. The Senate race in Louisiana headed to a Dec. 6 run-off after neither Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu nor Republican challenger Bill Cassidy mustered the majority support needed to win outright. But when Republicans knocked off the Democratic incumbent in North Carolina, the GOP had the seats it needed for the majority.

Republicans expanded on their majority in the House as expected.

“This is possibly the worst possible group of states for Democrats since Dwight Eisenhower,” President Barack Obama told a Connecticut radio station earlier in the day of the political map facing his party. “There are a lot of states that are being contested where they just tend to tilt Republican. And Democrats are competitive, but they tend to tilt that way.”

Obama, whose middling approval ratings are dragging down Democratic candidates across the country and who has exclusively campaigned for candidates in safe Democratic territory, mostly stayed out of sight Tuesday. He held meetings with Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and officials handling his Administration’s Ebola response, but he didn’t campaign. Exit polls indicated voters felt deep dissatisfaction with Obama and both parties in Congress, with two-thirds saying the country was headed on the wrong track.

The President famously declared the 2010 election a “shellacking” the day after Democrats lost the House to Republicans, and a White House official said late Tuesday that he had “invited bipartisan, bicameral congressional leaders to a meeting” for Friday. The Administration sought to downplay the idea that the race was about Obama. “Ultimately it’s the quality of these candidates that are going to be the driver in this election,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. Early Wednesday, Earnest said Obama would hold a news conference in the afternoon.

The Republican Party now faces the challenge of governing with full control of Congress, and will surely continue to face competing pressures from conservatives who want to challenge Obama by passing ideologically “pure” legislation and forcing him to veto it, and from moderates who see cutting big deals on immigration and other issues as the better path toward winning back the White House in 2016. The obstacles facing McConnell were again on display just moments after Republicans emerged victorious when Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, a staunch Tea Party conservative and possible 2016 candidate, again won’t commit to backing McConnell for Majority Leader.

“That’ll be a decision for a conference to make,” Cruz said on CNN. Tonight “was a powerful repudiation of the Obama Administration,” Cruz said.

The only potential bright spot for Democrats was supposed to be gubernatorial races, where some Republicans elected during the GOP wave of 2010 looked poised to go down in defeat. But in Florida, Republican Gov. Rick Scott held off Democrat Charlie Crist, a party-switching former Republican governor of the state himself. And Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who has been a top target for Democrats ever since he pushed through legislation that stripped public employees of collective bargaining rights, beat his Democratic challenger.

— With reporting from Jay Newton-Small, Alex Rogers and Maya Rhodan

Read next: The weirdest moments of Election Day 2014

TIME 2014 elections

No, Republicans Aren’t Yet Winning the Women’s Vote

Jeanne Shaheen,Scott Brown
United States Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), right, listens as her Republican rival, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown speaks during their debate , Monday, Oct. 6, 2014 in Conway, N.H. Jim Cole—AP

One poll doth not a trend make

The Associated Press dropped its latest national poll Wednesday ahead of the midterm elections due to be held in less than three weeks. The poll had a spate of expected findings: likely voters favor Republicans to take control of the U.S. Senate, the top issue remains the economy, and no one likes either party very much. Then, buried in the seventh paragraph of the story, was this nugget about women voters:

Women have moved in the GOP’s direction since September. In last month’s AP-GfK poll, 47 percent of female likely voters said they favored a Democratic-controlled Congress while 40 percent wanted the Republicans to capture control. In the new poll, the two parties are about even among women, 44 percent prefer the Republicans, 42 percent the Democrats.

Given Democrats’ unrelenting drumbeat on women—their women’s economic agenda, the GOP’s “War on Women”—for the last six months, this looked like surprising news. Democrats have staked the fate on the Senate on turning out one demographic: unmarried women, who vote reliably Democratic but tend not to show up in off presidential elections. Democrats have won women every year since the Reagan era except for 2010 and in losing them they lost control of the House and six Senate seats. Thus their strategy this year to turn out unmarried women in order to prevent a 2010 from happening all over again. If the AP poll is correct Democrats are in deep trouble.

Needless to say, paragraph seven led the Drudge Report much of the morning: “Poll shock: Women want Republicans!” That spawned a spate of headlines from conservative news sites. Townhall led with: “Poll: More Women Plan to Vote For Republicans in Midterms.” And Hotair blared: “Republicans closing the [gender] gap.”

But the poll is just one data point, and there is a good reason to be skeptical of a major shift in the female electorate. The reason is the voter screen that the AP used.

“Their likely voters screen in this survey is very similar to the 2010 electorate—i.e. more conservatives than moderates are likely to vote,” says Dave Winston, a GOP pollster. “But if you’re looking at variety of different surveys, the voter screening differences are huge, so you’re depending on how they phrase a question—are you likely to vote—or a series of questions to come up with who’s in the poll.”

Winston says the AP took steps after its polls proved off course in 2012 to correct what they saw as flaws in their survey-taking. But their new processes remain unproven. “The proof will be in the pudding,” he says.

The AP says they stand behind the poll. “The poll does show quite clearly that women who are likely to vote and have a preference for who controls Congress have shifted toward the Republicans. And I stand firmly behind that finding,” says Jennifer Agiesta, the AP’s director of polling.

Granted, every midterm electorate skews older, more conservative and more male and Democrats face an uphill battle trying to turn out a demographic that doesn’t usually vote, but this poll is either wrong or “it’s a precursor to a trend that none of us have spotted yet,” says Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who together with GOP pollster Ed Goeas does George Washington University’s Battleground State polls. “But I haven’t seen any other poll that shows that.”

“It seems off, honestly” Lake says. “We aren’t seeing any place where there isn’t a gender gap. We haven’t’ seen any polling that shows women trending Republican. You see men more enthusiastic for Republicans than women are for Democrats, sure. And women are sitting more undecided, which is why both parties are looking to convince women voters before election day, but we haven’t seen anything even approaching gender parity, let alone women trending Republican, in our polls of likely voters.”

The only other recent national poll that breaks out likely voters by sex came out with opposite results. Fox News found Dems winning women 44% to 35% amongst likely voters in a survey conducted Oct. 12-14. And polls in battleground states have Dems winning women by double digits and unmarried women by as much as 30 points in many cases.

“This just isn’t what we’re seeing in competitive races. North Carolina, New Hampshire, Colorado and Michigan all have decisive and, in some cases, historic gender gaps with women favoring Democrats,” says Marcy Stech, a spokeswoman for Emily’s List, which helps elect pro-choice female Democrats. “The GOP can try to cling to this national poll, but the reality is that they continue to be underwater with women voters in key races – women don’t trust them on the economic issues that matter to them and their families. Whether it’s ending gender discrimination in pay, raising the minimum wage or protecting access to health care, women voters know that it’s Democratic candidates who are squarely on their side and they’re going to show it at the ballot box.”

In 2012, Democrats benefitted from a couple of GOP senatorial candidates who said dumb things about women and rape, comments that turned off female voters, helping President Obama and the Democrats win big with women. This cycle, Republicans have avoided such missteps. Both Mark Udall in Colorado and New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen have turned away from War on Women ads and attack lines in the last week. But are Republicans winning women? The preponderance of state and other national polls indicate that isn’t happening.

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