The House Rules Committee approved the resolution along party lines that would give authority to Speaker John Boehner's lawsuit over the use of executive actions to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate.
A further panel meeting is scheduled for early next week to approve the rule under which the measure will come to the floor, and is expected to clear the way for a floor vote on Thursday of next week, before the end of term.
The hearing Thursday was marked by the same party-line contentions that have followed the issue since Boehner announced it last month. Democrats accused the majority of pushing the lawsuit as a "political stunt" to whip up GOP support ahead of the November midterms, while Republicans said they were carrying out their duty as legislators to defend their constitutional authority.
"This is about politics. Let's admit that and treat this for what it is, because I think the American people are sick and tired of these endless investigations," said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. "This has nothing to do with the law. This has everything to do with trying to manage some of the extremists in your party -- some of the cuckoo clocks that are talking about impeachment."
"It is incredibly frustrating to me that we can call the defense of Congress a 'political stunt,'" said Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga. "We have an obligation to get this done and get this done as best we can. To suggest that standing up for the power that is not ours, but is the people's, is a political stunt is troubling to me."
Democrats tried to push amendments, including one that would require weekly reporting of expenses related to the lawsuit, but all failed. A Republican amendment to require quarterly reporting, meanwhile, passed by voice vote.