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Tom R.
Republican SC 7

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  • Employer Mandate Under the Affordable Care Act

    by Representative Tom Rice

    Posted on 2014-01-09

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    RICE of South Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and to include extraneous materials on the topic of my Special Order.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from South Carolina? There was no objection.

    Mr. RICE of South Carolina. Mr. Speaker, back last summer when the President unilaterally announced that he was going to not enforce the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act, I was quite surprised because the next day there was a news article in The New York Times about it. Democratic Senator Tom Harkin was quoted in the article. He was one of the architects of the Affordable Care Act. He said, speaking of the President: This was the law. How can he do that? How can the President simply unilaterally choose to ignore the law? Our Founders, Mr. Speaker, designed a system of government based upon a separation of powers. The legislative branch enacts the laws and the executive branch, the President, enforces those laws. They did that to protect our very, very fragile freedom. We cannot allow those separations to be eroded. One man who can both make the laws and enforce the laws is more a monarch than a President.

    Article II, section 3 of the Constitution requires, in part, that the President take care to faithfully execute the Nation's laws. In 1792, when George Washington was faced with enforcing an unpopular whiskey tax, he wrote in a letter that: It is my duty to see that these laws are executed. To permit them to be trampled upon with impunity would be repugnant to that duty.

    President Obama, on the other hand, has, throughout his administration, picked and chosen which laws or parts thereof he wishes to enforce. House Resolution 442 would require the House of Representatives to institute a lawsuit against the President to comply with this article II, section 3 of the Constitution. It lists four specific examples where the President has either failed to enforce the laws or has gone beyond the laws as written: One is the 1-year delay in the employer mandate under ObamaCare, which I mentioned earlier; Another is the 1-year extension of the substandard insurance policies, which by my definition is any insurance policy anybody would really want to buy; One is the waiving of the work requirements under the welfare laws; and One is the granting of deferred removal action to illegal aliens.

    Again, one man empowered to both enact the laws and enforce the laws is more a monarch than a President. This is not a Republican issue. This is not a Democrat issue. It is not a Tea Party action. This is not for messaging. H.R. 442 merely recognizes that no American, including the President, is above the law.

    What would we say if the next President came in and said, I don't like the Affordable Care Act and, therefore, I am not going to enforce the individual mandate, which would gut the law? What would we say if President Obama or any other President said, I think the top income tax rate is too high and, therefore, I am not going to enforce it, or I am not going to enforce the lowest income tax rate? What is the difference between those situations and what President Obama is doing right now not enforcing the employer mandate under ObamaCare? After all, the Supreme Court has ruled that the penalties under ObamaCare are a tax.

    What would we say if a President said, I am not going to enforce this tax against my friends but I will against my enemies, or I am not going to enforce it against my contributors but I will against everybody else? What is the difference between that situation and what the President has done granting 1,300 unilateral exemptions to different groups under the Affordable Care Act? If the President is allowed to make the law or to ignore those laws passed by Congress, Congress can just go home; there is no need for the legislative branch. In fact, when Congress, following the President's lead, when the House of Representatives passed a bill that would delay the employer mandate for a year, which the President had already announced he was going to do unilaterally, the President threatened to veto it.

    {time} 1700 At this time, I yield to Representative Martha Roby from Alabama.

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