Sen. Lee: GOP Criticism Over Obamacare Threat 'Compliment'

Sunday, 28 Jul 2013 01:30 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Utah Sen. Mike Lee said Sunday he isn't backing down from a threat to shut down the government rather than approve funding for Obamacare, and he considers criticism from some of his fellow Republicans as a "compliment."

"Look, I understand that there are some in the Washington establishment, some from both political parties who aren't happy with me on this, and in this instance, I'm going to take that as a compliment," the Republican senator told Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace. "I'm going to take that as an indication that I'm doing something right."

Lee penned a letter last week to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, to warn that he and other senators signing the letter, including Marco Rubio of Florid, Ted Cruz of Texas, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, and John Thune of South Dakota, plan to block Obamacare funding measures, even if it means shutting down other votes needed to fund the government.

But other Republicans, like Sen. Richard Burr called a shutdown over Obamacare "the dumbest idea I have ever heard of."

"Some of these guys need to understand that if you shut down the federal government you better have a certain reason to do it that is achievable," Burr said. "At some point, you're going to open the federal government back up, and Barack Obama's going to be president, and he won't have signed a dissolution of the Affordable Care Act."

Such criticism, Lee said, helps show why a strong stance is needed against Obamacare.

"We always knew Obamacare would be unaffordable," Lee said. "We also know now it will be unfair."

Lee complained that Obama's plan to delay one part of the plan -- businesses reporting of the status of employee coverage -- while still going ahead with a requirement that all Americans have health coverage, is "unfair to the American people" and shows the law is not ready to roll out.

"If this law isn't ready for prime time, Congress should not fund it," said Lee.

Meanwhile, Lee said his threat to shut down the government doesn't mean the government will quit paying for vital needs.

"We all know the government's going to get funded," said Lee. "The question is whether it will get funded with Obamacare or without it."

Lee denied that his stance is about politics, even though some Republicans are backing off a potential government showdown.

"This really isn't Republican versus Democrat," said Lee. "This is another instance of Washington versus everyone else. Americans by a margin of 2-1 believe [Obamacare] will make health care worse than better."

And groups including businesses, educators, labor unions and more agree that the "law is bad. It's certainly not ready to implement," said Lee.

Even if the government doesn't shut down, Congress can still delay the bill, Lee said. "If we can delay it, we can stop its consequences at least for now."

Meanwhile, Democrats are vowing a shutdown of their own-- and Obama is threatening to veto spending bills -- unless Republicans agree to replace sequestration spending cuts with less drastic ones.

The across-the-board cuts started in March after lawmakers did not agree on other ways to reduce spending. So far, about $55 billion has been cut from federal agencies' budgets, reports Fox News.

Lee agreed that sequestration is "problematic on several levels," especially because it tries to cut too much from the military budget. But he insisted spending needs to be cut to bring federal finances under control.

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