WASHINGTON, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- A Democratic congressman Sunday said President Obama was not exercising undue authority when he delayed the employer mandate of his healthcare reform program.
Rep. Javier Becerra, D-Calif., chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, told "Fox News Sunday" there was nothing improper in the president's decision to postpone the mandate for small businesses without the blessing of Congress.
"It's the same authority that every president has had, to make sure that the laws are administered and executed in a way that helps all Americans," said Becerra. "The president simply providing small businesses with flexibility they need to be able to start adopting the law."
Becerra contended that Obama was not sidestepping the Constitution and rewriting a wobbly Affordable Care Act on the fly. "If you were going around Congress to rewrite law that would be different than trying to use the flexibility you're given by the Congress to execute the law," he said, adding that the specific wording of the new law said the mandate would kick in "after" Jan. 1, 2013 and not exactly on that date.
But Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, a leader of Tea Party and a vehement opponent of "Obamacare," accused the White House of a power grab and that the delay was "flatly inconsistent with what the statute says."
"We can't simply ignore this," said Lee, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "We can't ignore the fact that we've got a president who is acting as if he's got a government of one simply because he can't always get exactly what he wants out of Congress."
Lee said Obama should have approached Congress about a delay if the small-business community actually needed one. He downplayed the idea of a court challenge to Obama's move, saying it would require a plaintiff from outside Congress that actually suffered legal injury from the delay.