House Republicans won Round 2 in a potentially historic lawsuit Thursday when a federal judge declared the Obama administration was unconstitutionally spending money to subsidize health insurers without obtaining an appropriation from Congress.
Last year, U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer broke new ground by ruling the GOP-controlled House of Representatives had legal standing to sue the president over how he was enforcing his signature healthcare law.
On Thursday, she ruled the administration is violating a provision of the law by paying promised reimbursements to health insurers who provide coverage at reduced costs to low-income Americans.
The judge's ruling, while a setback for the administration, was put on hold immediately and stands a good chance of being overturned on appeal.
But the 38-page opinion highlights the repeated complaint from Republicans that Obama and his administration have ignored constitutional limits on their authority.
The Constitution says "No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law," Collyer noted, but the administration has continued to pay billions to insurers for their extra cost of providing health coverage.
"Paying [those] reimbursements without an appropriation thus violates the Constitution," she wrote. "Congress is the only source for such an appropriation, and no public money can be spent without one."