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political notebook

House backs GOP plan to sue Obama over use of power

House Speaker John Boehner spoke to reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

House Speaker John Boehner spoke to reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON — A sharply divided House approved a Republican plan Wednesday to launch a campaign-season lawsuit against President Obama, accusing him of exceeding the bounds of his constitutional authority. Obama and other Democrats derided the effort as a stunt aimed at tossing political red meat to conservative voters.

Just a day before lawmakers were to begin a five-week summer recess, debate about the proposed lawsuit underscored the harshly partisan tone that has dominated the current Congress almost from its start in January 2013.

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The vote to sue Obama was 225 to 201. Five Republicans voted with Democrats in opposing the lawsuit: Paul Broun of Georgia, Scott Garrett of New Jersey, Walter Jones of North Carolina, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, and Steve Stockman of Texas. No Democrats voted for it.

Republicans said the legal action, focusing on Obama’s implementation of his prized health care overhaul, was designed to prevent a further presidential power grab and his deciding unilaterally how to enforce laws.

‘‘No member needs to be reminded about the bonds of trust that have been frayed or the damage that’s already been done to our economy and to our people,’’ declared House Speaker John Boehner, Republican of Ohio. ‘‘Are you willing to let any president choose what laws to execute and what laws to change?’’

Republicans also scoffed at Democratic claims that the lawsuit would be a waste of taxpayers’ money.

House OK’s bill to improve veterans’ health care access

WASHINGTON — The House overwhelmingly approved legislation Wednesday to expand veterans’ access to health care, acting on bipartisan outrage about long waiting lists, falsified reports of health care improvement, and a crush of new patients from the wars ending in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 420-5 vote sends the bill to the Senate where final passage is all but assured before Congress leaves Friday for a five-week summer recess. President Obama has promised to sign it.

The bill promises to clean up the scandal-scarred Department of Veterans Affairs by granting the secretary of veterans’ affairs broad new authority to fire and demote senior executives. It also would authorize the leasing or construction of 27 new VA facilities, set aside $5 billion to hire more doctors, nurses, and other health care providers, and $10 billion to pay for veterans’ health care at private and public facilities not run by the department.

Former IRS official disparaged GOP in e-mails

WASHINGTON — A former IRS official at the heart of the agency’s Tea Party controversy called Republicans ‘‘crazies’’ and more in newly released e-mails.

Lois Lerner used to head the IRS division that handles applications for tax-exempt status. In a series of e-mails with a colleague in November 2012, Lerner made two disparaging remarks about members of the GOP, including one remark that was profane.

Republican Representative Dave Camp, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, released the e-mails Wednesday as part of his committee’s inquiry.

Camp says the e-mails show Lerner’s disgust with conservatives.

Senate moves to fix latest immigration problem

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats opened debate Wednesday on an emergency measure to help stem the flood of young immigrants from Central America, though they still face two uphill votes — another procedural, and one of final passage — before they can head home for the five-week August recess having passed legislation to address the crisis at the southern border.

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