Sen. Mike Lee: In Defunding Obamacare, GOP 'Standing on the Side of the American People'

September 24, 2013 - 7:15 AM

lee and cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, left, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, during a news conference with conservative Congressional Republicans at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), one of the Senate conservatives who has taken a stand against Obamacare amid sniping from fellow Republicans and Democrats alike, says he's doing it to protect Americans from a law that will hurt them.

"I thought what we were doing was standing on the side of the American people, standing on the side of the House of Representatives, and the leadership of Speaker John Boehner, who last week bravely decided to stand with the American people and say, 'Let's keep the government funded, but let's protect the American people from Obamacare,' a law that's going to make health care more expensive and going to harm a lot of people."

Lee, speaking to Fox News's Greta Van Susteren Monday night, said Republicans "sometimes" disagree, but as Republicans, "We do stand behind the idea that we need to stop Obamacare. We need to fight it. We need to stop it any way we can, even though some of us might have different ideas about how best to get there."

Now that the House has passed a continuing resolution that funds all government operations except for Obamacare, Lee said it's the Senate's job to "move forward and to stand behind what the House did and not let Harry Reid gut what the House of Representatives passed last week."

He said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can either bring up the House-passed bill "and let us vote for it up or down, as is. Number two, he can bring it up and say, we're going to allow amendments. We'll allow Democrats and Republicans to introduce amendments. We will debate those. We'll discuss them. We'll vote on them."

Lee said either one of those options is "just fine" with him. "What's not fine," Lee continued, is if Reid allows one amendment only -- to strip out the defunding language, which would "gut what the House did in support of the American people. We can't let him have that," Lee said.

Lee said he's confident that his Republican colleagues would be comfortable with the first two options, but he said they should oppose the third option by voting no on a cloture vote, which would cut off debate:

"Some people might say that that would be voting against the bill, and they've got it wrong," Lee said. "What we would be voting against in that context is Harry Reid trying, through manipulation of the Senate rules, to undo what the House of Representatives did. We can't let him do that. We've got to oppose it."

"Some people might say that that would be voting against the bill, and they've got it wrong," Lee said. "What we would be voting against in that context is Harry Reid trying, through manipulation of the Senate rules, to undo what the House of Representatives did. We can't let him do that. We've got to oppose it."

Lee's ally, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, told Sean Hannity Monday that if every Senate Republican "stands with the House Republicans, we can stop Harry Reid from funding Obamacare."

He admitted the votes are "fluid" at the moment. But a few weeks ago, no one thought the House would vote to defund Obamacare, Cruz noted.

"Right now I think in the Senate, the votes are fluid. But you know, we're going to have two votes this week. We're going to have a procedural vote on Wednesday on what's called cloture on the motion to proceed, which is to take up the bill. And then there's going to be another vote on Friday which is cloture on the bill itself -- a motion by Harry Reid to cut off debate on the bill itself.

"Sean, it's the vote on Friday that matters," Cruz told Hannity. "The vote on Friday, Harry Reid is trying to cut off all debate on Friday to be able to fund Obamacare with just 51 votes. And in my view, I hope and believe that all 46 Republicans should vote together on Friday against cutting off debate, against giving Harry Reid the power to fund Obamacare."