White House predicts Republicans will lose new challenge to healthcare law

The White House said on Thursday the U.S. Department of Justice was still deciding whether to appeal a court ruling challenging President Barack Obama's healthcare law, but a spokesman predicted Republicans ultimately would lose the fight.

"This suit represents the first time in our nation's history that Congress has been permitted to sue the executive branch over a disagreement about how to interpret a statute," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told a briefing.

"It's unfortunate that Republicans have resorted to a taxpayer-funded lawsuit to re-fight a political fight that they keep losing," he added. "They've been losing this fight for six years and they'll lose it again."

His comments came shortly after a U.S. judge ruled on Thursday in favor of congressional Republicans who challenged the implementation of the healthcare law, arguing that the administration cannot spend funds Congress did not appropriate.

(Reporting by Tim Gardner; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Andrea Ricci)