published Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

Chattanooga area Congress candidates back lawsuit against Obama

President Barack Obama smiles in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington on Aug. 1, 2014.
President Barack Obama smiles in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington on Aug. 1, 2014.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE — Republicans running against each other in Tennessee's 3rd and 4th Congressional District primaries agree on at least one thing.

It's taken a Democrat, President Barack Obama, to unite 3rd District Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and his challenger, Weston Wamp, and 4th District Rep. Scott DesJarlais and the man running against him, state Sen. Jim Tracy.

All four men say the House was right in voting Wednesday to authorize Speaker John Boehner to sue the president in federal court and "seek appropriate relief" for Obama's failure to enforce a provision of the Affordable Care Act.

The measure passed the GOP-run House 225-201, along mostly party lines.

"Time and time again, President Obama has exceeded his authority and circumvented Congress in order to advance his own political agenda," Fleischmann said in a statement.

He said he voted for the measure, adding, "We must reign in Obama's abuse of the executive orders and restore the balance of power."

Ditto for his GOP primary challenger, Weston Wamp.

"I would have voted with the majority because it seems clear the president continues to expand beyond his constitutional authority," Wamp said.

DesJarlais, who is being treated for what he said is a curable cancer, missed the vote. But he said he would have voted yes had he been present.

Tracy also said he would have. But Tracy said that if elected, he's willing to consider going further.

"Obama has abused the powers of the executive branch time and time again," Tracy said in a statement. "I would be open to impeachment as an option to put a stop to the out-of-control executive orders and overreach this president has shown."

DesJarlais, a member of the House Government Reform Committee, has battled the Obama administration on many issues.

"I am willing to consider any and all options to prevent this president from circumventing our laws and Constitution," he said in a statement regarding impeachment. But he added that "with Democrats in control of the Senate, I believe our best chance of restraining this imperial president is in the court of law and not in the court of Senator Harry Reid."

He said that's why he backed House efforts to bring the unprecedented legal action against Obama.

"With the recent court rulings against the administration regarding recess appointments, the EPA's attempt to regulate greenhouse gases and Obamacare, I believe the courts have proven they are capable of upholding our nation's Constitution," DesJarlais said.

The Democrat in the 4th District race, Lenda Sherrell, of Monteagle, who is unopposed, said the vote is more Republican wrongheadedness.

"We deserve better than this Congress," she said in a statement.

"While the forgotten people in the middle struggle to play by the rules, Congress decided the help they need is to sue the president. While Congress goes on their vacation having done nothing, the great middle works to solve their problems themselves, this is exactly what's wrong with Washington," Sherrell said.

Obama has twice delayed the effective date of a provision in the Affordable Care Act that penalizes businesses that don't offer basic health insurance to workers.

The House has voted multiple times to repeal the same law that it now intends to sue Obama for failing to enforce.

Contact staff writer Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com or 615-255-0550.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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