White House spokesman Josh Earnest taunted congressional Republicans Thursday in spite of a major court ruling against Obamacare, saying "they've been losing this fight for six years."
In a major ruling, Judge Rosemary Collyer, an appointee of President George W. Bush, said the administration does not have the power to spend money on "cost sharing reduction payments" to insurers without an appropriation from Congress.
Collyer's decision doesn't immediately go into effect, however, so that the administration can appeal it.
A reporter asked Earnest at the outset of the briefing how "problematic" this was for the law overall.
"This is not the first time that we've seen opponents of the Affordable Care Act go through the motion to try to win this political fight in the court system," Earnest said.
He added it was "unprecedented" that Congress would sue the Executive Branch over a "disagreement about how to interpret a statute."
"These are the kinds of political disputes that characterize a democracy, and it's unfortunate that Republicans have resorted to a taxpayer-funded lawsuit to refight a political fight that they keep losing," Earnest said. "They've been losing this fight for six years, and they'll lose it again."
The Hill additionally reported:
The House GOP argued that the administration was unconstitutionally spending money on these payments without Congress's approval.
But the administration said it did not need an appropriation from Congress because the funds were already guaranteed by the healthcare reform law in the same section as its better-known tax credits that help people pay for coverage.
Collyer ruled that the section only appropriated funds for tax credits and said the cost sharing reductions require a separate congressional appropriation, which the administration does not currently have.
"Such an appropriation cannot be inferred," Collyer wrote. "None of Secretaries’ extra-textual arguments — whether based on economics, ‘unintended’ results, or legislative history — is persuasive. The Court will enter judgment in favor of the House of Representatives and enjoin the use of unappropriated monies to fund reimbursements due to insurers under Section 1402."Unlike previous ObamaCare lawsuits, this one is not expected to deal a crippling blow to the law if Republicans ultimately prevail.