Utah Sen. Mike Lee told a group of constituents at a town hall meeting Thursday that his plan with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the upcoming short-term Congressional budget (which would force the senate and president to veto the budget, shutting down the government) is not meant to lead to a government shutdown.
But, Lee is speaking out of both sides of his mouth, what he now says won't happen is a plan that has been endorsed by other Republicans—and by Lee himself.
Last month, Lee, Senator Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio suggested that Republicans force a decision between the ACA and the functioning government that passed it.
Independently, Lee wrote earlier this month that the House should add language to the next spending bill (a “continuing resolution”) to fund all functions of government except the ACA so that senate Democrats would “have a choice: fund the government or shut it down to protect Obamacare."
Yet oddly enough, Lee said Thursday “the whole reason I am bringing this forward is to avoid a shutdown.” Yes America. Mike Lee and the GOP have introduced a potential shutdown with the specific intention of avoiding one. The only government shutdown Lee wants to “avoid” is the one his suggestion would create.
And that’s just it: Lee doesn’t want to avoid a government shutdown. He wants to avoid a government shutdown at the cost of the ACA. Regardless of how he describes it, Lee has prioritized potentially defunding the ACA over continuing government services.
The funny thing is, Lee himself has said why what he’s doing is duplicitous. He says he’s “willing to fund everything else in government, even programs that I dislike […] if it means I can avoid having to vote to fund Obamacare.” The big question is why the ACA is separate from the "programs that I dislike" since from the looks of it, the ACA is just one of the larger ones.
It’d be one thing if Lee was holding funding from ALL legislation he doesn't support—it would still be childish, but it would at least be consistent—but Lee’s position doesn't even make that much sense.
Indeed, funding duly passed legislation you don’t support to avoid a shutdown (or simply out of respect for the democratic process) is typical for congressmen and women from both sides of the aisle. So whether it targets a specific piece of legislation or all legislation that he doesn't like, Lee’s proposal is unusual and, especially since it introduces the risk of a government shutdown, dangerous.
Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and other Republicans will fund programs they don’t agree with as is their duty to the nation. They can simply consider the ACA among those and, if they earnestly want a government shutdown off the table, they will.