A federal judge ruled the House had the right to sue the Obama administration over billions of dollars in health-care spending.

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WASHINGTON — A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the House had the right to sue the Obama administration over billions of dollars in health-care spending, a decision that poses a new legal threat to the health-care law and gave congressional Republicans a victory in their claims of executive overreach by the White House.

In a significant defeat for the administration, U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer found that the House had made a compelling case that suing the White House was the only way to preserve its constitutional power to control federal spending and stop the administration from distributing $136 billion in insurance company subsidies that Republicans say Congress never approved.

“The House of Representatives as an institution would suffer a concrete, particularized injury if the Executive were able to draw funds from the Treasury without a valid appropriation,” Collyer said in her 43-page decision.

She said the merits of the claim would be determined in a later proceeding. But her decision, if it withstands appeal, would mark the first time that the House has been able to challenge an administration in court over its spending power.

Speaker John Boehner had pressed the lawsuit both as a way to attack the health-care law and to underscore what congressional Republicans say is a pattern by the Obama administration of exceeding its authority on a range of issues including health care, immigration and pollution controls.

The Justice Department said it would appeal.

The White House had anticipated that it could lose at the lower-court level and said it expected the decision to be overturned.

Other legal experts warned that the decision could have far-reaching consequences if upheld.

“This decision would be a radical expansion of the role of unelected judges to resolve disputes that are essentially political,” said Walter Dellinger, who served as acting solicitor general in the Clinton administration.