The Executive Branch seldom asks for less money, so this raised a red flag. The lawyers in the House asked what gives, and then they figured it out: After Congress denied the funding for Section 1402, the Obama administration decided to pay the insurance companies anyway. The House deemed this spending illegal. Article I of the Constitution provides that “no Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” No appropriation, no money. In Federalist No. 58, James Madison wrote that “this power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon” of Congress to check the executive branch.
On June 25, 2014, Speaker Boehner circulated a memorandum to the House GOP caucus. The Ohioan wrote that “for the integrity of our laws and the sake of our country’s future, the House must act now” to stop the President’s illegal executive actions. In July, Boehner would bring legislation to the floor to authorize the House General Counsel “to file suit in the coming weeks in an effort to compel the president to follow his oath of office and faithfully execute the laws of our country.” On July 30, the House voted along straight party lines — 225 to 201 — to authorize the litigation. (One Republican voted nay.)
The biggest critic of this plan was President Obama. During a speech in Kansas City, Obama mocked the proposed lawsuit. He warned the crowd that Congress planned “to sue me for doing my job.” The audience booed. The President continued, “They have announced that they’re going to sue me for taking executive actions to help people.” He dismissed the litigation as a “political stunt,” as this vote is not actually working to “help you.” President Obama issued an ultimatum to Republicans. “Middle-class families can’t wait for Republicans in Congress to do stuff. So sue me.” They did.