Source: CNS News
Congressional Republicans and conservative leaders applauded a federal judge’s ruling on Thursday that the administration acted unconstitutionally in funding some Obamacare subsidies because Congress did not appropriate the money for it.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) called the separation-of-powers decision an “historic win for the Constitution.”
On Nov. 21, 2014, the House of Representatives sued the Obama administration over a section of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) that reimburses insurance companies for providing coverage to low- and moderate-income people under a “cost-sharing” arrangement.
However, Congress never appropriated any money for the program – which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would cost $175 billion by 2024.
And Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 of the U.S. Constitution states that “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”
“Authorization and appropriation by Congress are nonnegotiable prerequisites to government spending,” U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer wrote in her May 12th decision striking down the ACA’s cost-sharing provision.
“Today, we had a big win in our fight to restore the separation of powers under our Constitution,” Ryan said in a statement shortly after the ruling was released.
“Time and again, this White House has gone too far. So we took up this fight to defend Article I of the Constitution. The fact is this: Presidents don’t write laws. Congress does.”
“It is encouraging to see that a federal judge has sided with the U.S. Constitution and the House Republicans on this vital issue,” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) also said in a statement.
“Under Obamacare, this administration does not have the power to provide what could amount to a bribe to insurance companies that the Obama administration calls ‘cost sharing reduction payments’ to try to keep the insurance companies on board.
“Any payments must be completely authorized and appropriated by Congress,” Gohmert added.
“Yesterday’s ruling sent a clear message to #POTUS: complying with Article I of the Constitution is not optional,” Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and one of 17 physicians serving in the House, tweeted on Friday.
“The U.S. District Court’s ruling today is an important win for the Constitutional separation of powers and for the American people who are tired of an imperial President that makes up the rules as he goes along,” agreed Rep. Diane Black (R-TN).
Conservative leaders and policy analysts also praised Judge Collyer’s ruling.
“It’s obviously correct on the merits of whether the administration has been acting illegally in spending money without congressional authorization,” Hans Bader, a senior attorney at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), told CNSNews.com.
Bader pointed out that congressional Democrats once protected the legislative body’s power of the purse.
“When Republicans were in the White House, Congressional Democrats like Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) claimed that congressional control over appropriations was ‘the taproot of Anglo-American Liberty’ and should be held sacrosanct under the Constitution.
“Now that a Democrat is in the White House, they could not care less. The Constitution does not matter to them when it is no longer politically convenient,” Bader said.
“The administration just can’t justify spending money because it thinks it should, or beause Congress should have, or maybe because it thinks Congress made a mistake,” Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons, told CNSNews.
“No administration can spend money that is not explicitly appropriated by the legislative branch. The Constitution is explicitly clear on this,” echoed FreedomWorks CEO Adam Brandon.
“The Obama administration has developed a lawless and shameful proclivity for going around Congress to implement its agenda, with no regard for the constitutional separation of powers. We’re pleased with this ruling, and we hope that it will stand as this case works its way through federal courts.”
Some analysts predicted that the ruling could mark the beginning of the end for the Obamacare exchanges.
“If this ruling is upheld, it will likely hasten the demise of the Obamacare exchanges,” Devon Herrick, Senior Fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), told CNSNews.
“About 82 percent of enrollees receive premium subsidies. Many of those receive cost-sharing subsidies as well. I expect many of those receiving cost-sharing subsidies will drop out if they lose the subsidies since Obamacare will be largely worthless to them,” he explained.
But the government’s next step will be to take the case to the D.C. Court of Appeals, where Judge Merrick Garland, Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, “will likely show us his deference to an expansive interpretation of executive power,” cautioned Mark Meckler, president of Citizens for Self-Governance.
“Given the makeup of the D. C. Circuit, which will hear the appeal, and the propensity of Chief Justice [John] Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court to invent ambiguities where they don’t exist in order to save what the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia rightly suggested should be called ‘SCOTUSCare,’ don’t necessarily expect this one to last,” agreed David Applegate, policy advisor for legal affairs at The Heartland Institute.
“Still, the only thing necessary for ignorance or evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing, and Judge Collyer has at least struck a much-need blow for common-sense statutory construction and a proper respect for constitutional separation of powers.”