Lawyers representing several Obamacare recipients asked a Washington, D.C., federal court to issue a ruling in litigation challenging a component of the law before President-elect Donald Trump takes power in January.
The challenge, brought by congressional Republicans, concerns subsidies the Affordable Care Act offers low-income enrollees to reduce out-of-pocket expenses. The House GOP conference argues Congress never appropriated money for the program, and that the administration is usurping its constitutional spending prerogatives. Article I of the Constitution vests all taxing and spending powers with Congress.
U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer sided with Congress in the dispute, and ruled the White House was unlawfully financing the subsidy. George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley represented the House in the dispute. The ruling was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where the matter is currently pending. (RELATED: Harry Reid Says Comey Violated The Hatch Act: Law Prof Says He’s Wrong)
Earlier this year, the D.C. Circuit agreed to temporarily delay the proceedings after Trump’s upset victory in the November general election. The court wanted to allow government lawyers sufficient time to focus on the transition, and recognized the incoming administration will likely make significant changes to the healthcare law that could dramatically impact the case.
However, two individuals who receive subsidies through the Obamacare program filed an emergency motion to intervene at the D.C. Circuit. They are represented by Mayer Brown LLP, a powerhouse K Street law firm. The challengers argue that delaying the proceedings until after the inauguration will simply allow the Trump administration to withdraw the appeal, permanently ending the subsidies and inflicting substantial harm on Obamacare enrollees who use the program.
“[I]t is more than reasonable to require the Executive Branch and the House to respond to this matter of very significant importance to millions of Americans before the House and the incoming Administration engage in joint action inflicting significant harm on Intervenor-Movants,” their emergency petition reads.
The D.C. Circuit has not yet issued a ruling on the emergency motion.
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