Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has been one of a handful of Republican senators who is consistently unsatisfied with the Obamacare replacement plan devised by Senate leaders, and in a Thursday interview with Politico, he defended his staunch opposition to the legislation.
“I’m not being an absolutist,” Lee told Politico. “I’m a little frustrated by some who are eager and willing to call me out for saying this doesn’t go far enough in doing what we promised to do for seven years.”
The senator has opposed the Senate’s bill to repeal and replace Obamacare from the start, saying that he will need an amendment from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) that allows for the sale of cheaper, non-Obamacare-compliant plans, in order to back the bill. Lee, along with moderates who oppose the bill’s cuts to Medicaid funding, has helped block the replacement plan from moving forward.
But he told Politico that his Republican colleagues should be just as concerned that some GOP senators have not supported full repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
“If Republicans want to criticize someone for having problems with this bill, why are they not equally critical of anyone who wouldn’t stand behind full repeal?” he told Politico. “It is not nothing to ask someone holding an election certificate in the United States Senate to provide his or her vote. I’m not going to provide it simply because others in my party are providing theirs.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), an ally of Senate leadership, criticized Lee’s die-hard opposition to the replacement bill to Politico, complaining that it “seems like he’s against everything right now.”
“I am stunned by that suggestion,” Lee told Politico, responding to Hatch’s comments. “I am surprised that he would purport to know what my thoughts and intents were, what I was thinking or intending. He could not be more wrong.”