Republican leaders on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are challenging the Treasury Department’s authority to delay the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, calling it a political move directed by President Obama ahead of the November elections.

Information obtained by the committee suggests that last year’s decision to delay the employer mandate “was made by the White House and not the Treasury Department,” the committee claims in a March 18 letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. “This finding raises serious questions about whether the White House directed the delay of the employer mandate for political reasons.”

For more on the ACA employer mandate delays see:

For benefits industry reaction to the latest ACA employer mandate read:

Admitting the committee believes the ACA, including its penalties on employers, “is bad policy and should be repealed,” the letter continues, “It is clear that by law the Administration cannot act unilaterally to delay unpopular aspects of ObamaCare until after the next November election.”

The letter is signed by Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and James Lankford (R-Okla.). 

The committee “is concerned that, as part of its role in the law’s implementation, the Department of Treasury is intentionally disregarding core statutory requirements of the law,” the representatives write.

The Obama administration announced the delay of the employer mandate on July 2, 2013 in a blog post authored by Mark J. Mazur, the Department of Treasury’s assistant secretary for Tax Policy.

At that time Issa issued a statement saying it was unclear the President has the authority to do delay the mandate without Congressional approval.

“This is another in a string of extra legal actions taken by his Administration to mask the horrible impact his law will have on the economy and health care in the United States,” he said.

Earlier this year committee staff conducted a transcribed interview with Mazur, in which he reportedly said there had been no internal investigation into whether Treasury had the legal authority to delay the employer mandate delay.

Treasury said it had relied upon an asserted authority under § 7805 of the Internal Revenue Code, according to the letter.

The committee is asking Lew to provide, by April 1, all documents and communications between Treasury and the executive office of the President and between the Department of Treasury and the Department of Health and Human Services relating to the implementation of the employer mandate.

Requests for comment from the Treasury Department had not been returned by press time.

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