Lee and Hatch want to block implementation of Obamacare

Aug 1 2013 - 12:23am

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Sens. Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch both say they want to block implementation of Obamacare, but their methods are showing a divide between the two Utah Republicans.

Lee claims his effort to defund Obamacare can be done without shutting down the government, if Republicans in both the Senate and House will get behind his effort. Hatch is taking a different tack, while publicly not backing his colleague's proposal.

"We have a majority of the representatives in the House and a sizeable number against it. Those of us who are against it ought to be willing to stand up. We want to fund the rest of government, just not Obamacare," Lee told a national radio audience Tuesday on the Rush Limbaugh show.

Lee used the national platform to suggest his effort is picking up momentum and can actually succeed. He said the health care law is not popular in the Washington Beltway or among many fellow party members.

Pressed as to why he didn't have more GOP support for his effort to defund the Affordable Care Act, the junior senator from Utah said many see no electoral benefit to taking a stand. He said that position doesn't make sense.

"It we undertake the right policy, then we will benefit as a party. By the same token, we're in huge trouble as party. We were put in power to stop Obamacare," Lee said.

Lee said there are now 13 GOP senators who support his bid, including both senators from Idaho and Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas. He said his staff estimates as many as 100 members of the 435-member House also support the bill.

Hatch is not among those who have publicly supported the Lee measure, despite speaking out Monday on the Senate floor, asking that implementation of the health care plan be permanently delayed.

"Given what we know about the problems associated with Obamacare, and, quite frankly, given what we don't know, the sensible approach is to delay it permanently and to work together on reforms that will actually lower health care costs," Hatch said.

A Hatch spokesman, Matthew Harakal, said in a prepared statement that no one in the Senate is working harder than Hatch to stop Obamacare, but he wants to use a legal means to do so.

"Senator Hatch strongly believes that Obamacare is a disaster and must be stopped," Harakal said. "He hopes Senate Democrats join with their House colleagues and back delays to the individual and employer mandates -- after all, it's a question of basic fairness.

"Senator Hatch is examining every way to repeal it, which is why he's supported legislation to repeal the law in its entirety as well as introduced legislation to repeal the individual mandate, the job-crushing employer mandate, the medical device tax, and the health insurance tax."

Information provided by the Congressional Research Service says it would be impossible to shut down the health care plan, even if government were shut down. On Monday, the service issued a letter to Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., outlining how implementation of Obamacare would continue, even in a government shutdown.

Lee said he isn't buying that argument or finding.

"Those who are saying we can't stop this are simply wrong. Congress can decide to pass any kind of spending bill it wants. We can run this with an amendment -- one has been drafted -- but we will restrict funding for Obamacare."

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