On Thursday, Speaker John A. Boehner reiterated House Republicans' resolve to stop President Barack Obama at all costs from moving forward with the Iran nuclear deal.
"This debate is far from over; in fact, it's just beginning," the Ohio Republican pledged at his weekly news conference, despite Obama enjoying a veto-sustaining majority among Democrats in both chambers. "We'll use every tool at our disposal to stop, slow and delay this agreement from being fully implemented." Legal action, Boehner added, is "an option that is very possible."
Boehner might have made such a threat in any event. But the developments of the past 24 hours gave his words some additional heft.
Boehner: Legal Action on Iran Deal 'Very Possible'
On Wednesday afternoon, a federal district judge ruled the House GOP had standing to pursue its lawsuit against the Obama administration's implementation of one aspect of the Affordable Care Act.
That news came just as Boehner and his members were formulating a new strategy to pair a vote to approve the Iran deal with action on a resolution stating Obama has not yet sent Congress all the relevant documents relating to the agreement, which could have two major implications. One is that Obama is in noncompliance with legislation he signed into law a few months earlier requiring all materials be transmitted to Congress. The other, at least according to GOP thinking, is that since lawmakers haven't received access to the so-called side deals, the clock on the 60-day review period hasn't started — and Obama shouldn't be able to put the agreement into effect.
Obama has signaled he has no intention of slowing down implementation of the deal by Sept. 17, the date which he and supportive Democrats say is the end of the congressional review period. Assuming he goes forward, Republicans will cry foul — and start talks of what comes next.
Boehner has not yet made a direct or close to explicit connection between the Obamacare court ruling and potential success of any possible legal action on the Iran deal, at least not publicly. His statements praising the judge's decision, though, strongly suggest he is emboldened by the court's validation of House Republicans taking the president to task, which could perhaps extend to other arenas.
"I cannot overstate how big a victory this is," Boehner said Thursday, "for limited government and first principles.
"If the president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have that ability to do so as well," he continued. "This victory sends a strong message that no one, especially no president, is above being held accountable to the Constitution."
There is no guarantee of ultimate triumph, however, and how the case plays out could dictate what sort of appetite Republicans have to pursue another politically and financially costly lawsuit.
Pelosi Slams Court Ruling on Obamacare Lawsuit
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in her own news conference earlier Thursday, signaled she wasn't worried about the future of the 2010 health care law she championed when she was speaker — though she conceded the decision was "astounding" and "unprecedented in our entire history.
"I'm confident the court would not want to be an arbiter between the executive and legislative branches of government," Pelosi said. "Republicans have tried 60 ways to repeal the Affordable Care Act, so I believe this [court ruling] will be overturned."
As for the blowback on implementation of the Iran deal, Pelosi was similarly unimpressed by Republican warnings of retribution and refused to engage with reporters on questions of whether she was concerned about possible lawsuits or dismantling of the agreement once Obama leaves office in 2017.
She also dismissed the new House GOP three-part vote strategy to express condemnation of the Iran deal as a sign of desperation.
"Over here we have a potpourri of initiatives designed to get a vote on the rule," Pelosi shrugged, "so that's what that is."