Where a previous president might have asked for a legislative fix if a mandate was proving too onerous for business, the Obama administration put out a couple of blog posts saying that, in listening to the business community, it decided not to enforce a key part of the 3-year-old health law for another year.
The administration notes that parts of laws are delayed in implementation all the time — including various pieces of the tax code.
A Treasury official said the administration has “longstanding administrative authority to grant transition relief when implementing new legislation like the ACA.”
But three House committees are already looking into the decision, with Republicans complaining about a disturbing trend where the president decides which laws to enforce and which to ignore.
Darrell Issa of California, the chairman of Oversight and Government Reform, called the decision “another in a string of extra legal actions” taken by Obama.
“As a former constitutional law teacher, President Obama must know that this action gets into very questionable constitutional territory,” Issa said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. “It also paves the way for future administrations to simply not enforce parts of Obamacare they don’t believe are functioning well.”
Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas announced a hearing July 10 focusing on the administration’s authority to delay enforcement.
And Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee, the chairman of an Education and the Workforce subcommittee, asked the Congressional Research Service to investigate.
“I believe this administration has made a habit of bypassing Congress and it sets a very dangerous precedent,” Roe said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. “Both Republicans and Democrats should be very concerned, and I will continue to closely monitor these actions and hold the president accountable.”
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said, “If President Obama wants to make changes to Obamacare, he must come to Congress. … We are a nation governed by laws written by Congress, not memos and blog posts written by bureaucrats.”