Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said her vote authorizing a lawsuit against President Barack Obama was cast to voice frustration over what she called executive overreach.
“I certainly have heard a concern about the executive branch, the administration deciding unilaterally what the law is going to be,” McMorris Rodgers said in her downtown Spokane office Wednesday.
The five-term congresswoman is traveling the district and meeting with constituents this month during Congress’ August recess, including a town hall scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday at the Lincoln Center in north Spokane. She spoke about her vote to authorize a lawsuit against Obama as part of a wide-ranging conversation about issues facing the Department of Veterans Affairs, GOP leadership and more.
McMorris Rodgers joined 224 of her colleagues (including all members of the Inland Northwest delegation) in voting July 30 to move forward with a lawsuit against Obama, alleging overreach of authority in his decision to delay portions of the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act. McMorris Rodgers, chair of the House Republican conference, said the health care policy decision is just one example of ongoing attempts by Obama to avoid congressional oversight of implementation of laws. She also cited his enforcement of immigration laws and his failure to notify lawmakers about the trade with the Taliban for captured U.S. Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl.
“This isn’t a Republican versus Democrat issue,” McMorris Rodgers said. “This is a legislative versus executive issue.”
But the vote to authorize the lawsuit was made strictly along party lines. No Democrats in the House of Representatives voted for the resolution, and five Republicans split from the party to oppose it.
The White House and House Democrats have called the lawsuit a waste of time and taxpayers’ money. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, took to the Senate floor and said TV’s “Judge Judy” would toss the lawsuit within minutes.
McMorris Rodgers said she hopes the legal action will gain bipartisan support, because Obama’s actions “undermine representative government.”
McMorris Rodgers is among the 420 members of Congress who voted for independent oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs health care service delivery and allowing veterans who have had long waits for health care to obtain care from private doctors.
But, she said, “we still have a long way to go.”
“What are the policies that make sure we are meeting the needs of veterans in 2014? The structure of the VA has been the same way for a long time,” she said.
Though she has yet to visit the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane during this visit, McMorris Rodgers said she met recently with veterans in the district.
“They feel like they get lost, that the veteran gets lost in the whole system,” she said of her meetings with area veterans.
The Spokane medical center emerged from a national review of VA hospitals this summer with the shortest wait times for appointments of the three facilities in Washington. However, the 29-day average wait time at the Mann-Grandstaff center still exceeded the department’s stated goal of two weeks or less.
Cantor ouster ‘a loss’
McMorris Rodgers, herself a member of Republican leadership in the House, said her party was dealt “a loss” with the resignation of Majority Leader Eric Cantor earlier this summer.
“Eric Cantor was someone who had provided important leadership in the House for a number of years,” she said, calling him “very influential.”
Cantor lost his bid for re-election to the House early in the cycle, losing to tea party-backed David Brat in the Virginia primary held in June. Cantor announced shortly thereafter he’d be stepping down as majority leader, a title he’d held since January 2011. A private vote held by House Republicans ended with Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California as his replacement.
McMorris Rodgers emerged triumphant in her own primary held in Washington Aug. 5. She moved to the general election with almost 52 percent of the vote in a four-person race. Her next closest challenger was Democrat Joe Pakootas, whom she will face in the Nov. 4 election.